Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe on Saturday opened the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) with the announcement of a five-year US$32 billion package to support infrastructure development and boost economic growth in Africa.
The package is in line with the objective of TICAD, which is to, among other things, contribute to the promotion of development on the continent and enabling African countries to determine what projects to focus, a statement by the Ghanaian presidency said.
Forty-one African heads of state, including President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, are attending TICAD V.
The three-day conference, which also marks the 20th anniversary of the TICAD process, is on the theme, “Hand in hand with the more dynamic Africa.”
The conference is reviewing Africa’s cooperation with Japan in the last two decades along four thematic areas of a robust economy, resilient society, developing public/private sector partnership and peace and stability in Africa.
The statement said Prime Minister Abe said Japan would also continue with its assistance programmes in health, education and other sectors.
On education, Mr. Abe said Japan would in the next five years provide scholarships to 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students from Africa to study in Japan. The students will also be provided with opportunities to work as interns in Japanese companies.
The Prime Minister used the occasion to launch Japan’s “Africa Business Education (ABE) Initiative for the youth in Africa.”
“Together with the ABE Initiative, over the next five years, we will set about cultivating ‘business and industry savvy human capacities’ that will lead to employment for 30,000 individuals, making use of the human resources development already being implemented by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA),” he said.
On Ghana, he noted that his country’s nutrition assistance to the West African state, which started with the construction of small maternity centres, was helping midwives respond in a timely manner to mothers during childbirth.
“We also started classes for expecting mothers. This is an awareness creating activity in which we bring pregnant women together to teach them and let them know the various things they should be aware of as expectant mothers.”
Mr. Abe lauded Ghana’s “koko plus”, a food supplement that helps to increase the weight of babies, saying the success of the supplement “… captured the attention of a company, Ajinomoto, one of Japan’s major food-related corporations”.