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Japan offers billions at Africa investment conference

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During its Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8), Japan offers $30 billion to be spent over three years as financial support for development of critical sectors, and a focus on three pillars: economy, society, peace and stability with a view to accelerating Japanese investment in Africa.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, speaking over live video from Tokyo after testing positive for Covid-19 days earlier, said that “Japan will invest both public and private funds worth $30 billion over the next three years across Africa. To improve the lives of Africans, we will provide up to $5 billion in co-financing with the African Development Bank.

Japan’s initiative “includes up to $1 billion in a new special quota to be established by Japan to promote debt consolidation reforms” in Africa, the Japanese premier said. He also pledged $300 million in co-financing with the African Development Bank to boost food production, vowing to help African countries weather grain shortages caused by the war in Ukraine, a major wheat producer. 

Kishida announced that Japan would appoint a special envoy to the Horn of Africa, where a long and devastating drought in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has prompted the UN’s weather agency to warn this week of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.

In West Africa, Kishida said Japan would pump $8.3 million into the troubled but gold-rich Liptako-Gourma tri-border area between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso that has been ravaged by jihadist attacks in recent years. The aid will aim to “develop good cooperation between residents and local authorities” and help improve administrative services for the area’s five million residents.

It wants to create an environment where African people can live in peace and security so they can develop. Japan would use its place on the United Nations Security Council next year to push for a permanent African seat on the world body.

The pledge come as China cements its influence on the continent with its “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative, and as experts express concern about the long-term sustainability of some African nations’ borrowing from Beijing.

The summit held at a time when the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has chosen eight countries to start implementing the idea of a shared market without trade barriers, an opportunity for Japan to be the first foreign power to access the continent as a single free market.

This, Japan hopes, will help it catch up with China, the EU, and the US who have been active in the continent in the recent past, deepening business relations. The US-Africa Business Summit in Morocco in July attracted 450 US companies, 17 government agencies, and 213 business deals were signed. FDI from the US to Africa stood at $44.8 billion in 2021.

FDI as the model for engagement with Africa. While there have been concerns over the reduction of China’s financial commitments in Africa from $60 billion in 2018 to $40 billion in 2021, China’s move this past week of waiving debt from 17 African countries weighs favorably for the Asian giant.

There is growing interest to invest in Africa, with FDI to African countries doubling last year to hit a record $83 billion, though investment flows to the continent accounted for only 5.2% of global FDI, up from 4.1% in 2020. Last February, however, the EU committed to invest $170 billion in Africa, positioning itself as the most valuable business partner for the continent.

Tokyo could also take advantage of its 2019 Partnership on Sustainable Connectivity and Quality Infrastructure with the EU, with trilateral business initiatives being actively discussed as cooperative schemes through which to facilitate joint Japan-EU-African private investment.

The African Development Bank said in its report that Japan’s $5 billion financial cooperation is under the fifth phase of the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance for Africa initiative (EPSA) from 2023 to 2025. 

The funds consist of $4 billion under the existing window, and an additional up to $1 billion that will be provided under a new Special Window. Japan will establish this Special Window to support countries that are making progress in the enhancement of debt transparency and sustainability, and other reforms, thereby making steady and significant improvement in their debt situations.

Given the importance of food security, Japan and the African Development Bank will add agriculture and nutrition as a priority area under EPSA 5. As a result, EPSA 5 will cover 1) electricity, 2) connectivity 3) health, 4) agriculture and nutrition as priority areas in order to address key challenges in Africa.

Japan and the African Development Bank will join forces to support countries that address enormous challenges, including food security, climate change, health, digitalization, and debt issues. These initiatives help to mobilize the private sector, create job opportunities and positively impact on millions of lives across Africa.

The Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) took place amid a “complex” international environment caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the Japanese foreign ministry said. Since their inception in 1993, the TICAD conferences, co-sponsored by the United Nations, World Bank and African Union, have generated 26 development projects in 20 African countries, largely funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Host country Tunisia is among the countries bearing the brunt of global supply chain disruptions and price spikes unleashed by these two factors, since it is heavily import dependent and is not an energy player. A slick promotional video said the conference aims to promote “African development led by African people” during the summit.

In his opening speech, Tunisian President Kais Saied urged delegates to “search together for ways for African peoples to achieve the hopes and dreams of the first generation after independence.” Praising Japan’s strong track record of development and “preserving” its culture, he said that “the world cannot continue as it was. With all its wealth and assets, Africa cannot watch its people live through poverty.”

The Current Chairman of the 55-member African Union and Senegalese President Macky Sall, paid tribute to Africa’s “partnership” with Japan, praising “concrete results in the agriculture, health, education and water” sectors. He urged a suspension of interest on debt owed to G20 countries, calling for a seat for the continent at the next G20 summit.

“Without security there can be no development,” Sall said and called for a greater role for African peacekeepers in resolving conflicts.

In a final statement, the conference participants voiced “deep concern (over) the negative socio-economic impact” of the Ukraine crisis, saying it had created food insecurity in Africa. “(We) reiterate the repeated calls for the resumption of the export of cereals, grains and agricultural products as well as fertilisers to global markets in order to relieve the African population,” the declaration read.

The Japan-Africa summit was held in Tunis, capital of Tunisia. The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) is held every three years either in Japan or an African country. The Japanese delegation was headed by Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, with about 5,000 participants in attendance. Among them were 48 representatives of African countries, including at least 20 Heads of State or Government, according to Tunisian diplomatic sources. *This article was facilitated by Kelvin Dewey in Tokyo, Japan and with news agency reports.

MD Africa Editor Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.

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Critical Views On Russia’s Policy Towards Africa Within Context Of New World Order

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In September WhatsApp conversation with Matthew Ehret, a Senior Fellow and International Relations Expert at the American University in Moscow, he offers an insight into some aspects of Russia-African relations within the context of the emerging new global order. 

In particular, Matthew gives in-depth views on Russia’s valuable contribution in a number of economic sectors including infrastructure development during the past few years in Africa, some suggestions for African leaders and further on the possible implications of Russia-China collaboration with Africa. Here are important excerpts of the wide-ranging interview:

What are the implications here and from historical perspectives that Russia is looking for its allies from Soviet-era in Africa…and “non-Western friends” for creating the new world order?

Russia is certainly working very hard to consolidate its alliances with many nations of the global south and former non-aligned network. This process is hinged on the Russia-China alliance best exemplified by the integration of the Eurasian Economic Union with the Belt and Road Initiative and the spirit of cooperation outlined in the the Feb. 4 Joint Statement for a New Era of Cooperation.

Of course this is more than simply gaining spheres of influence as many analysts try to interpret the process now underway, but has much more to do with a common vision for instituting a new system of cooperation, creative growth and long term thinking uniting diverse cultural and religious groups of the globe around a common destiny which is a completely different type of paradigm than the unipolar ideology of closed-system thinking dominant among the technocrats trying to manage the rules based international order.

Soviet Union, of course, enormously supported Africa’s liberation struggle and resultantly attained political independence in the 60s. What could be the best practical way for Russia to fight what it now referred to as “neocolonialism” in Africa?

Simply operating on a foundation of honest business is an obvious but important thing to do. The African people have known mostly abuse and dishonest neo-colonial policies under the helm of the World Bank and IMF since WW2, and so having Russia continue to provide investment and business deals tied to the construction of special economic zones that drive industrial growth, infrastructure and especially modern electricity access which Africa desperately needs are key in this process.

African countries currently need to transform the untapped resources, build basic infrastructure and get industrialized -these are necessary to become somehow economic independent. How do you evaluate Russia’s role in these economic areas, at least, during the past decade in Africa?

It has been improving steadily. Of course, Russia does not have the same level of national controls over their banking system as we see enjoyed by China whose trade with Africa has attained $200 billion in recent years while Russia’s trade with Africa is about $20 billion. But despite that, Russia has done well to not only provide trains in Egypt, and has made the emphasis on core hard infrastructure, energy, water systems, and interconnectivity a high priority in the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit and the upcoming 2023 Summit.

Generally, how can we interpret African elite’s sentiments about Russia’s return to Africa? Do you think Russia is most often critical about United States and European Union’s hegemony in Africa?

I think the over arching feeling is one of trust and relief that Russia has returned with a spirit of cooperation. According to all the messaging from Lavrov who recently completed an important Africa tour late July, I can say that Russia is very critical of the USA and EU approach to hegemony in Africa. As Museveni and the South Africa Foreign Minister have recently emphasized, they are sick of being talked down to and threatened by western patronizing technocrats, whereas we see a sense of mutual respect among the discourse of Russian and Chinese players which is seen as a breath of fresh air. 

While the west is obsessed with “appropriate green technologies” for Africa while chastizing the continent for its corruption problems (which is fairly hypocritical when one looks at the scope of corruption within the Wall Street- City of London domain), Russia supports all forms of energy development from coal, oil, natural gas and even nuclear which Africa so desperately needs to leapfrog into the 21st century.

Understandably, Russia’s policy has to stimulate or boost Africa’s economic aspirations especially among the youth and the middle class. What are views about this? And your objective evaluation of Russia’s public outreach diplomacy with Africa?

So far Russia has done well in stimulating their youth policy with expanded scholarships to African youth touching on agricultural science, engineering, medicine, IT, and other advanced sectors. Additionally the Special Economic Zones built up by Russia in Mozambique, Egypt have established opportunities for manufacturing and other technical training that has largely been prevented from growing under the IMF-World Bank model of conditionality laced loans driven primarily by the sole aim of resource extraction for western markets and overall control by a western elite. Russia has tended to follow China’s lead (and her own historic traditions of aiding African nations in their development aspirations) without pushing the sorts of regime change operations or debt slavery schemes which have been common practice by the west for too long.

Sochi summit has already provided the key to the questions you have, so far, discussed above. Can these, if strategically and consistently addressed, mark a definitive start of a new dawn in the Russia-African relations?

Most certainly.

Geopolitical confrontation, rivalry and competition in Africa. Do you think there is an emerging geopolitical rivalry, and confrontation against the United States and Europe (especially France) in Africa? What if, in an alliance, China and Russia team up together?

China and Russia have already teamed up together on nearly every aspect of geopolitical, scientific, cultural and geo-economic interest imaginable which has created a robust basis for the continued successful growth of the multipolar alliance centered as it is upon such organizations as the BRICS+, SCO, ASEAN and BRI/Polar Silk Road orientation. This is clear across Africa as well and to the degree that this alliance continues to stand strong, which I see no reason why it would not for the foreseeable future, then an important stabilizing force can not only empower African nations to resist the threats, intimidation and destabilizing influences of western unipolarists. 

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Sahel security crisis ‘poses a global threat’

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Refugee women prepare food in a displacement site in Ouallam, in the Tillaberi region of Niger. © UNOCHA/Michele Cattani

Rising insecurity, including the proliferation of terrorist and other non-State armed groups, coupled with political instability, is creating a crisis in the Sahel that poses a “global threat”, the UN chief warned Thursday’s high level meeting on the vast African region, which took place behind closed doors at UN Headquarters in New York.

“If nothing is done, the effects of terrorism, violent extremism and organized crime will be felt far beyond the region and the African continent”, said Secretary-General António Guterres, in his remarks issued by his Spokesperson’s Office.

“A coordinated international breakthrough is urgently needed. We must rethink our collective approach and show creativity, going beyond existing efforts.”

The insecurity is making a “catastrophic humanitarian situation even worse”, he said, leaving some beleaguered national governments, without any access to their own citizens.

‘Deadly grip’ tightening

Meanwhile, “non-State armed groups are tightening their deadly grip over the region and are even seeking to extend their presence into the countries of the Gulf of Guinea.”

The indiscriminate use of violence by terrorist and other groups means that thousands of innocent civilians are left to suffer, while millions of others are forced from their homes, Mr. Guterres told the meeting of national leaders, during the High Level Week summit.

Women and children in particular are bearing the brunt of insecurity, violence and growing inequality”, he said, with human rights violations, sometimes committed by security forces mandated to protect civilians, “of great concern”.

Climate factor

And the crises are being compounded by climate change, said the UN chief, with soil erosion and the drying-up of water sources, “thereby contributing to acute food insecurity and exacerbating tensions between farmers and herders.”

“Against a global backdrop of turmoil on energy, food and financial markets, the region is threatened by a systemic debt crisis that is likely to have repercussions throughout the continent.”

The conventional international finance remedies are not helping, the UN chief said bluntly, with more and more countries forced to channel precious reserves into servicing debt payments, leaving them unable to pursue an inclusive recovery, or boost resilience.

“It is absolutely necessary to change the rules of the game of the financial reports of the world. These rules of the game are today completely against the interests of developing countries, and in particular the interests of African countries”, said Mr. Guterres, “with debt problems, with liquidity problems, with inflation problems, with instability, necessarily posed by this profound injustice in international financial and economic relations.”

Democracy, constitutional order

The UN chief called for a “renewal of our collective efforts to promote democratic governance and restore constitutional order” across the whole Sahel, which stretches from Senegal in the west to northern Eritrea and Ethiopia in the east, a belt beneath the Sahara of up to 1,000 kilometres.

The rule of law and full respect for human rights are indispensable for ensuring security and sustainable development, Mr. Guterres said.

Addressing national leaders and senior politicians from the region, he said the UN “stands ready to work alongside you, with urgency and solidarity, for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Sahel.”

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South Sudan: Extended roadmap for lasting peace deal, a ‘way point, not an end point’

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Since 2018, the Revitalized Agreement between the key players in South Sudan’s long-running civil war has provided a framework for peace, the Head of the UN mission there, UNMISS, told the Security Council on Friday – “despite continued outbreaks of intercommunal violence”. 

UN Special Representative Nicholas Haysom said that although key provisions of the Agreement are set to end by February, the parties agreed in August on a Roadmap that extends the current transitional period by 24 months. 

While a welcome development, he reminded that “there is no alternative to the implementation of the peace agreement”. 

“Let me underscore that the roadmap is a way point, not an end point”, he said. 

Inclusive political process 

The UNMISS chief flagged the importance of an inclusive political process and the opening of civic spaces as “essential conditions” for a robust and competitive electoral process. 

He then outlined some steps underway – from President Salva Kiir and first Vice-President Riek Machar’s agreement to resolve the parliamentary impasse, to the graduation of the first class of joint armed forces recruits – for which budgetary resources, integration and deployment, are vital to allow a broader security sector transformation. 

“Failure to address these critical issues…have the potential to reverse the gains made,” Mr. Haysom warned. 

Violence continues 

He went on to describe violence on the regional level, marked by cycles of cattle raiding, abduction, and revenge killings along with fighting in Upper Nile state that has displaced thousands of people. 

The Special Representative reported that while conflict-related violence is also increasing, UNMISS continues to support prevention through policy frameworks and other areas. 

“The Mission is strengthening its support to the justice chain in each state…to address crimes that risk destabilizing the peace, including those involving gender-based violence,” he told the ambassadors. 

‘Double pivot’ 

Mr. Haysom said that UNMISS has managed to accomplish a “double pivot” in its focus and operations, by channeling resources towards the political process; proactive deployment to violent hotspots; and expanding its protection presence for civilians. 

He assured that South Sudan’s natural resources have “tremendous potential” for either conflict, or cooperation.  

“It is always political that can make the difference”. 

Turning to the humanitarian situation, he acknowledged that food security continues to deteriorate, leaving some 8.3 million people in need and outstripping available funding. 

Noting that the Humanitarian Response Plan is only 44.6 per cent funded, he urged donors to fulfil their pledges. 

‘Litmus test’ 

He asserted that the next few months would be “a litmus test” for the parties to demonstrate their commitment to the Roadmap, warning against “delays and setbacks”. 

In closing, the Special Representative reaffirmed the importance of the international community’s support. 

“Our collective task now is to support the parties in fulfilling their obligations to the people of South Sudan as per the timing of the Roadmap,” he concluded. 

Indispensable timelines 

Meanwhile, Lilian Riziq, President, South Sudan Women’s Empowerment Network discussed a broad-based and inclusive process for all key participants, underscoring the need for a new transitional governance process.  

She underscored that election timelines are indispensable, noting that four years on, levels of revitalized agreement implementation have not brought security or ended humanitarian misery. 

She also highlighted ways that precious oil revenues in South Sudan, have been heavily misused. 

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