Japan has pledged $30 billion in development aid to Africa and said it wants to work more closely with the continent at a time when the “rules-based international order” is under threat following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) – as it is officially called – is also taking place as Beijing consolidates its dominance on the continent with its “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative.
At the summit in Tunisia on Saturday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tokyo would work to secure grain supplies to Africa amid global shortages.
“If we abandon a rule-based society and allow unilateral changes to the status quo by force, the impact will extend not just to Africa but the entire world,” Kishida said via video link after testing positive for COVID 19.
Kishida said Japan’s $30 billion in aid would be delivered over three years and pledged smaller amounts for food security in coordination with the African Development Bank.
In his opening speech at the conference, Saied urged delegates “to seek together ways for African people to realize the hopes and dreams of the first post-independence generation.”
He praised Japan’s success in “achieving development while preserving its culture and social traditions”.
“The world cannot go on as before. With all its wealth and resources, Africa cannot stand by and see its people living in poverty,” he said.
Saturday’s conference was the first TICAD to be held every three years in Japan or an African country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the last TICAD in 2019, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – who was assassinated at a campaign rally last month – warned investors in Africa to avoid burdening countries on the continent with “excessive” debt.
At a joint press conference with his Japanese counterpart on Friday, Tunisian Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi repeatedly emphasized Tunisia’s commitment to democracy, which Saied’s critics have questioned.