NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 27 – President Uhuru Kenyatta Saturday said the gathering of 34 African Heads of State and Government in Nairobi for development talks signals the collective ambition to build shared prosperity for all Africans.
He said the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process, whose sixth conference Kenya is hosting, is part of Africa’s search for increased opportunities in global trade.
President Kenyatta said the meeting is part of the response to Africa’s need for competitive business environments, deepening of regional integration and better infrastructure among other goals.
The TICAD initiative started after the end of the Cold War with Africa being guided by development imperatives rather than by global politics, said the President.
“Japan embraced these ambitions in the spirit of partnership, and we agreed to establish TICAD as a vehicle for our collective efforts. This was a visionary step,” said President Kenyatta.
He said the increased urgency to achieve the development objectives of Africa has been the reason commitments made at previous TICAD meetings have been implemented.
The conference has been held every five years since 1993 but will from now be hosted at intervals of three years.
President Kenyatta also spoke on the trend of growing isolationism by some developed countries and how Africa should respond to the emerging global environment.
He said the global system of multi-lateral agreement on trade and security is under stress due to the actions of some of the wealthiest countries that are now turning against globalization.
“The critical ingredients of prosperity in the last half century have been free and fair trade; infrastructure integration of regions; educated and productive citizens who enjoy economic liberty and responsible government,” said President Kenyatta.
“Yet there is now a trend among many countries to turn toward more isolationist or grossly unfair positions on trade,” he added.
The Head of State said TICAD is a positive response to the isolationist trend and it forms part of a collective platform for Africa to achieve the appropriate ingredients for development.
“Together, we must ensure that the global trade and governance system is supportive of African enterprise and our peoples’ aspiration to prosper, said the
President as he addressed the official opening ceremony of the conference at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.
He said Japan’s story of attaining the fastest economic growth in human history, following devastation in war, encourages Africans to strive harder to achieve strong and equitable economies.
President Kenyatta said Japan’s living example is one of the motivations that drive his vision for Kenya and Africa as a whole.
“As a country straddling the Indian Ocean, we have access to the investment and markets of Asia. We are also developing the logistical backbone and trained human resources to allow African markets, peoples and products to trade more profitably with the world,” said President Kenyatta.
He called for unwavering commitment from other African leaders in creating the conditions for a shared prosperity.
“We must press for open and fair trade, for deeper infrastructure integration and to develop the human resources of our people,” said the President.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the Nairobi TICAD conference opens a new chapter in the relationship between Africa and Japan.
He said Japanese investors will continue partnering with Africans in the continent’s drive for prosperity.
PM Abe also expressed his support for the call to reform the United Nations. He said as a minimum, the Africa should be represented in the United Nations Security Council.
The opening ceremony was also addressed by the President of Chad who is also the chairman of the African Union, Idriss Deby Itno, who called on Japan to increase its investments in Africa.
He also called on Japan to contribute to Africa’s war against terrorism and other related security issues.
The Japanese PM revealed that his country is already providing nation-building skills to the Kenya Defence Forces aimed at boosting the force’s peacekeeping role.
The chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dlamini Zuma, said Japan has remained a reliable partner for Africa.