The government of Botswana will host a high level two-day Ministerial, international conference, next week Saturday, in the capital Gaborone, at the behest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of Japan, the United Nations (UN), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
More than 300 delegates are expected to converge from mostly African countries, on the 21st and 22nd March, 2009, under the auspices of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).
Central to the objectives of the TICAD will be an examination and assessment of implementation of assistance measures as proposed by last year’s conference, with a view to soliciting opinions and ideas as well as suggestions for future implementation.
This follows the holding of a series of three similar events, the last of which took place in May 28-30, 2008, in Yokohama, Japan, which came to be known as the TICAD IV.
One of the remarkable achievements of the TIACD IV was the adoption of a “framework for ‘a century of Africa’s growth’, which was conceived as a major global framework for Asia and Africa to collaborate in promoting Africa’s development.
Apparently, the Yokohama Action Plan has reportedly spurred a wave of innovative activities, centering around three priority areas. These include, boosting economic growth, ensuring ‘Human Security’ which include the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and consolidation of peace and, finally, addressing environmental issues and climate change.
It is in this context that the Japanese Foreign Affairs Department boasts of having contributed 33.5 billion US dollars to the UN Human Security Trust Fund, established in 1999, and supported 180 projects, which were implemented by the UN agencies. Fifty of these projects were in African countries, according to Japanese authorities.
TICAD was first launched in 1993 as an initiative for Africa through the joint effort of the Government of Japan and the United Nations (at that time through its Office of the, Coordinator for Africa and the Least Developed Countries). The World Bank joined the TICAD co-organizers in 2000.
As evidence of the enormous effect that the TIACD has on the world scale, the spokesperson of the Embassy of Japan highlighted the fact that the Office of the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Africa (OSSA), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), currently assume a very significant role in the activities of TICAD.
Daisako Oka, Advisor (Politics & Economy) at the Embassy, said in an interview with the Sunday Standard, “The TICAD process in general involves a variety of stakeholders, including all African countries, Asian and donor countries who act as Africa’s development partners, international agencies and representatives of civil society.”
For this reason, the major focus of the co-organizers has been and continues to be to keep Africa’s development agenda in the forefront of the world’s attention by mustering support for Africa, particularly in times when attention may have been diverted elsewhere. In addition, it is also intended through this framework to form an international consensus on the priorities in African development based on the principle of “African ownership” of Africa’s development.
On account of the threat posed by the interconnected evils of poverty, environmental degradation and infectious diseases, this might offer an opportunity for African countries to capitalize on free support offered by the TIACD, in setting out their priorities.
However, that is if they are able to devise home grown survival strategies in the face of the uncertain future, presented by the ongoing worldwide financial and economic crisis that threatens to undermine the gains already achieved by the post independence governments of Africa.
According to the draft agenda of Saturday’s international conference, the whole of the second day will be devoted to discussing, the “Impact of the global financial crisis and economic downturn on Africa and our challenges”.
This particular session is scheduled to be co-chaired by the World Bank and the Botswana government.
Hopefully, this would facilitate the gathering of the voices of African countries on the matter, so that they could be carried forward to 2nd Summit Meeting on Financial Markets and the World Economy due to be held in London in April this year.