Commodity prices, Ebola and extremism to be tackled at African summit

22 August 2016

A collapse in commodity prices, the Ebola crisis and the rise of violent extremism and terrorism have highlighted the fragility of African development, according to the Japanese government.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has predicted Africa will “become a growth centre of the world by the middle of the century” but “several new challenges have emerged”, according to the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).

TICAD, described as the “key platform to drive Japan’s development initiatives in Africa”, was launched in 1993 but will be holding its conference in Africa next week for the first time to address these challenges.

Intended to promote high-level policy dialogues between African nations and development partners, the two-day summit in Kenya will be led by Japan and co-organised with partner organisations including the UN Development Programme, the World Bank and the African Union.

The Japanese government has described Africa as “the biggest frontier of the 21st century”.

In the three years since the last TICAD in 2013, Africa has faced the Ebola crisis, a rise in terrorist attacks and a slump in commodity prices. With this in mind, delegates at this year’s conference will be discussing industrialisation, economic diversification, healthcare and social stability.

“TICAD is a process in which Africa draws up a brilliant blueprint for its own development,” the Japanese government said in a statement committing to provide the continent with “quality infrastructure” and healthcare systems.

Japan has been actively investing in development projects across Africa, and announced at the last TICAD in 2013 it would commit up to ¥3.2bn, equivalent to $32bn, in both public and private investment and official development assistance in the five years to 2017.

The last TICAD also saw a series of policy commitments between Japan, Africa and their various partners in the form of a six-point action plan: boosting economic growth; accelerating infrastructure and capacity development; empowering farmers; promoting sustainable growth; creating an inclusive society; and consolidating peace, stability and democracy.

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