As the curtains fall on the Japan Africa conference, known as Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) it may be an appropriate time to reflect on this important milestone. First, kudos to the entire nation and all parties concerned for hosting a seemingly flawless event.
As a country, we have come of age. Gone are the days when Nairobi would grind to a halt when the University of Nairobi is having a graduation. Looking back, the event heralds a win-win situation both to Africa and Japan for many reasons.
First, Africa has a young, vibrant population that is strong and energetic. This provides both a market and labour to the Japanese while providing employment to the Africans. This leads to a better welfare for all concerned.
Africa has a young industrial base at large. In Kenya, we are just about to commercialise our oil deposits. We are yet to fully utilise our coal treasures or even the wind and solar energy.
There are vast opportunities for partnerships – be it in construction- especially in housing. Japanese technical knowhow would come in handy. In agriculture, the median age of farmers is over 50, so there is a lot of potential to be tapped.
African Union has been vocal about reforms in the UN, World Bank and other world institutions. Japan’s quest for a seat in the Security Council offers a chance to mutually support each other’s goal. On its part, Japan Inc. needs to be more assertive and look for trade. It should not be afraid to bid and also should check the cost of their products to make them affordable.
Though Chinese, EU, India and the West have made inroads in Africa, this should not derail Japan’s ambitions. Africa has many opportunities and it is ready for engagements that are mutually beneficial. All partners are welcome.