President Mnangagwa arrived here yesterday to attend the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) which begins today, with principal focus on business and investment. He joins dozens of African Heads of State who will grace the mammoth summit being hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
On arrival at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, President Mnangagwa was received by Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri as well as Zimbabwe’s chief envoy to Japan, Ambassador Titus Abu-Basutu.
Other Cabinet ministers – Dr Sibusiso Moyo (Foreign Affairs and International Trade), Kazembe Kazembe (Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services) and Professor Amon Murwira (Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development) – are also here for the summit.
The three-day summit, themed, “Advancing Africa’s Development through People, Technology and Innovation”, offers massive opportunities for African countries to enhance trade and investment with Japan and unlock growth in infrastructure development and long-term partnerships.
Diplomatic sources told The Herald that this year’s TICAD 7 will be more business-oriented than previous summits.
“Through TICAD 7, Japan aims to focus on business and investment as the centre of TICAD, further pushing forward African development through quality infrastructure and human resources development,” sources said.
The sources said the President, who went into high-level closed-door meetings soon after his arrival at 9pm (Japanese time), will have a packed schedule that includes meetings with Prime Minister Abe, as well as the Emperor of Japan, His Majesty Naruhito, and top business leaders.
“The bilateral meetings with Japan’s leader will be one of the highlights of the visit. The President will also have meetings with top businesspeople in Japan,” the sources said.
The diplomatic sources said Zimbabwe and other African countries have a greater advantage this year as Japan is keen to use TICAD as a platform to widen deliberations with Africa.
“Through TICAD 7, Japan aims to lead international discussions on African development, aiming to materialise the outcomes of major international conferences, including the Group of 20 and the Group of 7 nations, this year.”
In a pivotal development, Prime Minister Abe flew into Tokyo yesterday from the G7 summit in France, raising expectations that outcomes from the meeting of the world’s most powerful countries will also have a bearing on TICAD.
Japan’s diplomats said this year’s summit will zero-in on how Tokyo can shift its focus of economic assistance to quality, rather than quantity, raising prospects that countries such as Zimbabwe will have a firm pedestal for sustainable development.
According to documents availed to The Herald, the expected deliverables from TICAD will be hinged on three plinths to fast track positive outcomes from the summit.
“These are firstly, accelerating economic transformation and improving the business environment through innovation and private sector engagement; secondly deepening a resilient and sustainable society between Africa and Japan as well as strengthening peace and security.”
The documents said positive outcomes are also expected from deliberations that will be held between representatives from Zimbabwe and Japan’s business sector.
“There will be public-private business dialogue to enhance trade and investment between Africa and Japan, allowing voices of private sector to be heard by African and Japanese leaders.
“The summit will also be accompanied by hundreds of side-events that include the Japan Africa Business Forum and Expo as well as the Africa Japan pitch, where Zimbabwe will get a platform to showcase opportunities available in the country,” the documents read.
A report detailing some of the possible areas of deliberations at the summit said four themes will be under discussion, emerging developments and trends since the last summit in 2016, stakeholders’ efforts towards economic transformation for inclusive growth, efforts towards promoting a healthy sustainable and stable society for human security as well as examining efforts towards strengthening connectivity to Africa.
Last night, The Herald was told that other African leaders who had confirmed attendance were current African Union President and Egypt’s leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Muhammadu Buhari (Nigeria), Edgar Lungu (Zambia), Ibrahim Boubakar Keita (Mali), Macky Sall (Senegal), Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo (Somalia), Faure Gnassingbe (Togo), Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger) and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (Ghana).
TICAD, which was first launched by Japan in 1993, has undergone critical transformations in recent years aimed at responding to the needs of Africa.
At the last TICAD system in Nairobi Kenya, Japan committed to invest approximately US$30 billion under public-private partnerships for Africa.