The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) promotes high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and development partners. Japan proposed the conference to the United Nations in 1991 and held the first event in Tokyo in 1993. Subsequent meetings took place in 1998, 2003, 2008, and 2013 and most recently on Aug. 27-28, 2016. In 2013 participants agreed to hold future conferences at three-year intervals.
Japan is a co-host of TICAD and the first five events were held in that country.This year marked a notable change in the summit, as it was held in Nairobi, Kenya–the first TICAD event to take place outside of Japan. Co-organizers, in addition to Japan, are the African Union Commission, United Nations Development Programme in Africa, The World Bank Group and United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa.
According to the Kenya News Agency, 20,000 delegates attended, including 35 heads of state, going well over the target of 8,000 and nearly quadrupling the largest attendance in the past.
Activities at TICAD VI included a call to action by the First Ladies of Africa and Japan to commit to a slate of health initiatives including fighting HIV and cancer, preventing maternal deaths, advancing reproductive health and otherwise increasing investment in health across Africa. At the conference, African and Japanese leaders agreed to fight terrorism and emphasized the importance of rule-based maritime order. They adopted the Nairobi Declaration, agreeing to promote investment in infrastructure that leads to job creation in the fast-growing region. In a press conference at the conclusion of the event, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged continued support for African development. He said Japan would invest $30 billion in public and private sector funds to provide infrastructure development, education, and healthcare expansion in the resource-rich continent. This amount is in addition to the $32 billion pledge Japan made at the 2013 TICAD meeting.
In the same press conference, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said that Japan continues to be a force for African development and does not press its own ways.
The Nairobi Declaration calls for promotion of regional and international efforts related to maritime security, including piracy, illegal fishing and other maritime crimes and maintaining a rules-based maritime order in agreement with the principles of international law.
In the declaration, the leaders also reaffirmed determination to reform UN bodies, including the Security Council. Japan would like to become a permanent member of the Security Council, currently comprised of five permanent members with veto power — China, Russia, Britain, France and the United States. Africa’s 54 countries make up a significant voting bloc among the UN’s 193 members and potentially could support Japan in gaining more power within that body.
Japanese and African leaders vowed to create jobs for women and young people and to promote structural economic reforms, as well as to strengthen health systems and improve the quality of life.
On the last day of the conference, the Daily Nation, Kenya’s largest newspaper, reported that Zhang Ming, China’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, questioned rival Japan’s ability to fulfill the promises made during the summit.