Close to 300 Japanese corporate captains, a host of African presidents, and up to 6,000 delegates will grace the Tokyo 6th International Conference on Africa Development (Ticad) Summit in Nairobi, the first of its kind in Africa.
Japan External Trade Organisation (JTRO) executive vice president Katsumi Hirano told Sunday Nation that the CEOs would be seeking investment opportunities and partners in Kenya and Africa.
The event’s main agenda is to boost growth through trade and investment driven by the private sector.
“Ticad will attract more than 6,000 participants, of whom 300 will be Japanese CEOs. The CEOs, coming at the invitation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will show the interest of the private sector in Africa’s economic growth,” said Dr Hirano during a meeting at Japan’s Institute of Developing Economies.
Mr Abe, together with President Uhuru Kenyatta, are expected to open the event on August 27-28.
President Kenyatta lobbied for Nairobi to host the event after Mr Abe announced last year at the UN summit in New York that Africa would host the event, and called for those interested to put in their request.
Apart from the UN, World Bank, and IMF representatives, most African presidents are expected to attend.
While announcing the dates last week in Addis Ababa, President Kenyatta said TICAD was promoting the principles of African ownership for the processes encapsulated in the African Union Agenda 2063, with a clear focus to provide decent and productive jobs to African people.
He was flanked by AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who welcomed the participants on behalf of the African Union Commission and underlined the importance of the event to Africa.
During interviews with Sunday Nation, Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) vice-president Hiroshi Kato said Ticad was anchored on three pillars.
These are robust and sustainable economy, inclusive and resilient society, and peace and stability.
The pillars are expected to transform African economies through agriculture, industrialisation, and improved investment.
“We know that growth alone does not guarantee that all will be happy. We have to ensure that the society is inclusive. This includes farmers, agriculture and youth in the development process, and we have to create jobs and sustain incomes. This can only be achieved when peace is not threatened by extremists like Al-Shabab,” said Mr Kato.
According to him, Japan wants to execute the economic growth model it used in Indonesia to ensure Kenya takes off.
This model is fashioned on infrastructure development and institutional building, backed by human resource building.
“We are encouraged by the infrastructure development in Kenya, which is backed by educated bureaucrats. Kenya also needs to improve on the investment climate. But political instability is one of the issues affecting economic growth. The country needs to be stabilised politically,” said Mr Kato.
He added that Kenya is the home of many Japanese companies, thanks to a warm relationship that dates back to 1963.
“Kenyans are highly educated... but are not highly skilled. In addition, they need to have creative solving skills and play as a team. This is what the Japanese companies look for. They need to improve practical skills to fill the gap between employment opportunity and education,” he said.
Mr Kato argued that the international community had realised that aid alone does not induce economic growth.
“This has altered Japan’s thinking on Africa. Japan is now changing and believes economic progress can be engineered through the private sector. And because the Japan market is shrinking, we are looking outwards to Asia and Africa. Africa is destined to grow; we want our private sector to grow with it,” said Mr Kato.