, ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan 31 — President Uhuru Kenyatta today said that Africa has a lot to gain from closer cooperation with Japan, which has been a key ally in growing the continent and lifting its people from poverty.
The President made the statement as he officially announced that the Tokyo International Conference on Development (TICAD) VI, the main forum for championing Africa-Japan relations, will be held August 27-28 in Nairobi.
This will be the first time the TICAD process is held outside Japan since it was launched 23 years ago by the Japanese government to turn focus on Africa’s development.
The launch of TICAD VI in 1993 is credited for having a positive impact in refocusing international attention on Africa’s development needs at a time aid fatigue had taken hold in the world.
The main goal of TICA is to promote Africa’s development, peace and security through stronger relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
Since its inception TICAD has evolved into a major global forum for mobilizing international support for development in Africa under the principles of African ownership and international partnership.
President Kenyatta said the TICAD provides Africa with a unique opportunity to engage Japan and other global partners to foster growth and development on our continent.
“Hosting TICAD in Africa will go a long way in showcasing to the entire international community Africa’s own initiatives and opportunities for cooperation, trade and investment.
It further reinforces the principles of Africa’s ownership of the process,” said the President.
The President spoke at a press briefing at the African Union where he was joined by the African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Katsuyuki Kawai, Special Representative and Adviser to Japanese Prime Shinzo Abe who was accompanied by 10 Japanese Cabinet Ministers.
President Kenyatta said the TICAD process will be utilised to support the transformation of African economies to create jobs for the youth, create inclusiveness and support sufficient production for all.
“The next TICAD should embrace science, technology and ICT capacities including the innovations in order to tap in the potentials of young people,” said the President.
President Kenyatta also thanked other African countries and the Japanese government for giving Kenya the opportunity the TICAD.
“My Government has rolled out the TICAD VI preparations with a view to ensuring success. We shall be consulting and engaging relevant stakeholders along the way,” said the President.
The President later held a bilateral meeting with the Japanese delegation of 10 Cabinet Ministers led by Kawai.
During the meeting, Kawai delivered a personal letter from the Japanese Prime Minister to President Kenyatta.
PM Abe said Kenya is the biggest overseas development assistance partner for Japan in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He said the TICAD VI to be held in Kenya is a touchstone for a new stage of partnership between Africa and Japan.
“I am convinced that this conference is a crucial occasion for African Development as well to promote trade and investment between Japan and Africa,” said PM Abe in his letter.
President Kenyatta earlier attended a meeting hosted by Rwanda President Paul Kagame to discuss the Smart Africa initiative. The initiative is driven by an alliance of African countries and institutions committed to promote ICT as a driver for socio-economic growth
He also held a bilateral meeting with President of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh. The President also held a meeting with the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina.