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Japanese infrastructure investment in Africa – can TICAD deliver?

George Gibson

For the first time in its 23–year history, the next Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) will be held on African soil later this year, when it is scheduled to take place on 28 and 29 August in Nairobi, Kenya (TICAD No. 6). 

Given announcements on investments and related strategies at past TICAD forums, combined with the high levels of investment made by other major investors and business competitors in Africa, notably China and India, commentators expect a number of announcements regarding significant new support and investments to be provided by both the Japanese Government and Japanese private entities at TICAD No.6. 

This support and investment is particularly expected in the infrastructure sector and will be in addition to the ongoing US$10.5bn  Japanese direct investment in Africa up to May 2014 and the US$32bn on development projects announced by Prime Minister Abe at TICAD No. 5 in 2013 with respect to the following five years. 

In particular, Japan is increasingly attracted to port developments and related transport infrastructure, with large port developments ongoing at Mombassa in Kenya (where Japan has committed US$500m for its development) and at Nacala in Mozambique (where Japan has committed US$255m).

TICAD clearly appears to be growing in its importance and leadership role related to Japanese investment in Africa.

First initiated by the Japanese Government in 1993 and intended to be held every five years (there have now been five TICADs up to 2013), it is co-organized by the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, the African Union Commission and the United Nations.

Since its inception, TICAD has highlighted the importance of 'Africa's ownership' of its development as well as of the 'partnership' between Africa and the international community.

As one of the oldest international assemblies focussed on investment in Africa, TICAD No. 5, which was held in Yokohama in 2013, drew over 40 African heads of state and government and several thousand other attendees from all the major stakeholders supporting investment in Africa, including, importantly, the private sector.

TICAD No. 5 resulted in the Yokohama Action Plan 2013–2017 with a key focus of increasing private sector investment in Africa. Importantly, the Yokohama Action Plan includes regular follow up meetings so progress can be monitored.

Now, just three years since TICAD No. 5 and at the request of African nations, TICAD will be held every three years, alternating between Japan and Africa. Such a request demonstrates the high regard in which TICAD is held and the potential for tangible added investment that it delivers. 

The expectation is certainly there, so will TICAD No.6 deliver the expected investment?

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