EDITORIAL: Pull all stops to make sure Ticad is a success - Daily Nation

Pull all stops to make sure Ticad is a success

Sunday August 21 2016

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One of the most high-profile events Kenya has hosted since independence begins this week when heads of state from across Africa and the Prime Minister of Japan Mr Shinzo Abe jet in for the Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (Ticad).

This will be a historic event for many reasons. It will be the first time that Ticad has been held outside Japan and it is an honour to Kenya to have been picked to host this event.

It is essential the organisers put their best foot forward and ensure the conference is run smoothly.

It is expected there will be about 35 heads of state from across the continent in attendance in addition to heads of several multilateral organisations including the United Nations.

This will be another window for Kenya to showcase itself as an investment destination and it is essential the organisers get it right.

Japan is one of the oldest and most reliable friends of Africa and Kenya. It should be noted the Ticad initiative was launched in the early 1990s at a time when, following the end of the Cold War, much of the world was turning away from Africa.

Japan chose that moment to make a huge investment in partnering with African governments to improve the fortunes of their nations.

Kenya was one of the greatest beneficiaries. The country is the biggest recipient of overseas development assistance from Japan in Africa and it also hosts one of the largest populations of Japanese nationals on the continent.

Although there have been many new entrants to the scene in the last decade, few can match Japan’s efforts in sectors including infrastructure, agriculture, health and education.

Ticad should serve as an opportunity to build on this relationship. Although there are 50 Japanese companies currently operating in the country, Kenya can do more to attract Japanese multinationals to the country.

With the cost of manufacturing in many parts of Asia rising, there is a prime opportunity to get companies to invest in Kenya. This calls for greater investment in the energy sector to boost power supply, an area in which Japan is prominently involved with its financing of geothermal power, and for more reliable transport links.

Japan is a great friend of Africa, and the Ticad conference offers a chance to deepen these links.