TEXT: Marc Béliveau
Half of the media presence was from Japan. This event was one of the largest gatherings of Japanese journalists in Africa.
Several African media outlets, including the All African news platform, used headlines such as “TICAD VI: Excellent Opportunities for Business”. This reflected the high level of excitement generated by this event. JAPAN and the WORLD magazine has produced a TICAD Edition that was largely distributed during the Conference in Nairobi.
In an interview published in Jeune Afrique weekly magazine, Mr. Hiroshi Kato, vice-president of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said “TICAD VI is the largest conference on development in the world in general and that of Africa in particular, to be organized after the four major events held in 2015-16.”
Holding TICAD VI in Africa for the first time was also an initiative welcomed by the Japanese media. The Japan Times wrote “holding this important event in Africa was a clear recognition that Africa has come of age for mutually profitable partnerships with Japan and the rest of the world. This is attested by a confluence of factors that have seen Africa transforming from a discredited continent to the new frontier of global trade and investment.”
TICAD VI: How the media reacted
TICAD VI enjoys a positive image:
The “TICAD process” has been reported widely and positively all across African media. Influential magazines such as the Nairobi’s Daily Nation newspaper sum up the Conference with headline: “Japan proves it’s a true friend of Africa, Kenya shows it was up to the task”. Its competitor The Standard wrote: “Record 73 deals signed in bid to boost Africa-Japan trade”.
Japan lists conditions for investment in Africa:
African governments have been asked to strengthen their laws and abolish excessive regulations if they want to attract Japanese investment. Japan’s Prime Minister Abe called African governments to create a safe business environment, guarantee peace and security and reduce red tape.
The Guardian (Nigeria) newspaper reported that Nigeria’s President Buhari promised “to implement policies and measures to create right and enabling environment for business and investors in Nigeria”. The President maintained that his administration was committed to moving up Nigeria’s ranking of the World Bank’s ease of doing business index 20 places in first year.
Japanese distinctive approach to development:
Japan seeks to differ with the other players on the continent by placing emphasis on high quality infrastructure.
According to Le Point Afrique (France): “the challenge for Japan at TICAD VI is clearly to stand out from the perspective of what’s offering its Chinese neighbor.” After long shunned the continent as a trading partner, Japan intends to benefit from the diversification of African economies to seize opportunities in areas of excellence for Japan.
Valuable private meetings with Japan’s Prime Minister:
The Agence de presse du Sénégal (APS) reported Senegalese President, Macky Sall’s announcement that Japan will finance the program Senegalese Universal Health Coverage (CMU) for 41 billion frs CFA.
Should Japan improve its imports from Africa:
Quoting Kenya’s Vice-President, Mr. Ruto, the Daily Nation (Kenya) said “Africa accounted for only 3% of global trade. Meanwhile, Africa’s population is said to surpass that of India and China combined by 2050. Unless the trade imbalance is reversed as a matter of urgency, this will accentuate vulnerability, poverty, risk of insecurity and instability for both Africa and the rest of the world,” he said.
The Nairobi Declaration: peace and security issues:
In reference to the rule of law, Nippon.com submitted an analysis of the Nairobi Declaration: “Along with highlighting Japan’s commitment to African development, TICAD VI was also clearly intended to counter China’s growing influence.”
The Chinese media offered a more critical perspective on this issue. The Xinhua Africa News Agency accused Japan of using TICAD for political gains. For China Daily, there is a need for more project coordination, as China’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Zhang Ming cast doubt on Japan’s financial promise, adding that “impressive proposals are made during international forum, but very little is achieved in the implementation phase.”
For The Citizen (Tanzania) newspaper: “Prime Minister’s Abe speech at TICAD VI was a well-crafted speech to avoid any diplomatic disaster”.
Japan’s need to upgrade its business perceptions of Africa:
The African Business magazine recognizes that “Japan is slowly taking a more business-minded approach to Africa. But so far, this focus has been limited to strategic commodities rather than media. Mobile phone penetration in Africa increased from 10% in 2001 to more than 80% in key markets today; 4G mobile networks and fibre-optic data networks are being constructed all over the continent; and while only a fraction of Africans currently have access to high-speed internet, that number is growing daily. (..) Greater engagement between Japanese media producers and African audiences could help to widen this relationship beyond aid.”
Japan’s successful charm offensive in Africa
TICAD VI will be remembered through Japan’s pledge to mobilize a total of 30 billion USD in private-public sector funds to invest in Africa over next three years.
Overall, the media coverage during TICAD VI has been respectful. For Japanese media, such as The Japan Times, “TICAD VI is a paradigm shift geared toward moving from official development and assistance-oriented programs to private sector centered policies for increased trade and investment. The development is envisaged to strengthen a mutually beneficial business partnership between Japan and Africa and other global development partners”. For African media, including All African news platform, “TICAD VI has been a very successful Japan’s charm offensive in Africa”. Stay tune for the next TICAD VII to be held 2019 in Yokohama, Japan.