Around 1,600 people from all over Africa and Japan gathered over six days to explore closer business ties at the Third Japan-Africa Business Forum, which this year attracted the highest number of participants since its launch.
The conference was organized by the Asia External Representation Office of the African Development Bank, in coordination with the African Diplomatic Corps in Tokyo, the Japan External Trade Organization, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the United Nations Development Programme and United Nations Industrial Development Organization. It took place in a hybrid format between 29 June and 8 July. This year’s theme was “Shaping a New Africa in the Era of Covid-19.”
Koji Yonetani, a senior official in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered a speech on issues to be addressed at the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) next year. Yonetani, Director General in the African Affairs Department, identified two major themes that should be addressed at TICAD 8. Firstly, the solidarity of the international community to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. Secondly, a “better recovery” in Africa by utilizing the power of the private sector. He said “public-private dialogue will be an indispensable and important element of TICAD 8 next year, in order to harness the power of the private sector.”
In her keynote speech at the opening session, Acting Senior Vice President of the Bank, Bajabulile “Swazi” Tshabalala, underscored the Bank’s strong partnership with Japan, citing examples such as the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance or “EPSA” Initiative. She stressed the reasons why Japanese businesses are increasingly attracted to Africa. “The opportunities are tremendous, and Africa, with its growing population and demographic dividend, is the next new frontier in the global economy.” Tshabalala also called on the Japanese business community to join the Bank’s Africa Investment Forum in November 2021.
Five of the six days were dedicated to the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities, namely Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa. One session focused on start-ups.
Takashi Hanajiri, Head of the Bank’s Asia External Representation Office, explained the Bank’s role as an investment facilitator.
“There are risks in African business. However, the risks are challenges to be controlled and are proof of the opportunities on the other side of the coin. The key to doing business in Africa is to meet good business partners and utilize the support tools of our Bank.”
The Forum was accompanied by a three-week online business matching platform, which attracted 375 people from African, European, and Japanese companies. The participants exchanged 503 messages and held 59 business-to-business meetings virtually.
To promote Africa as an investment and trade destination, the Forum brought together African ministers, Japanese government officials, senior officials of the Bank, and business executives from both Japan and Africa. TICAD8 will take place in Tunisia, in 2022.