The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will renew its Third Country Training Programme (TCTP) with Egypt and Africa over the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) that is being held from 28 to 30 August, Chief Representative of JICA Yoshifumi Omura said.
“As the current chairperson of the African Union (AU), President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi aims at paying special attention to building capacities of the African youth. Renewing our TCTP will enhance the Japan, Egypt, and Africa cooperation toward training the African youth,” Omura mentioned.
JICA’s President Shinichi Kitaoka is expected to sign the TCTP’s memorandum of cooperation (MoC) with Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry, in the presence of President Al-Sisi over the TICAD7, Omura noted.
JICA has started to apply the TCTP since 1985, which is one of South-South Cooperation’s (SSC) schemes, where developing countries accept trainees from other developing countries with JICA’s assistance for the purpose of technology transfer or dissemination, the agency’s Senior Representative Akihiro Iwasaki commented.
JICA’s Egypt office has been working for 50 African countries, where 270 training courses were provided for 3,861 trainees, in the sectors of health, agriculture, water management, infrastructure, and business management, Iwasaki added.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Omura to shed light on JICA’s cooperation with Africa in conjunction with holding TICAD7, and to learn more about JICA updates of the joint cooperation with Egypt, transcript of the interview is below, lightly edited for clarity:
How can TICAD7 contribute to Africa’s development?
TICAD7 is a summit-level international conference focusing on development in Africa. The conference was created in 1993 by the Japanese government to promote policy dialogue between leaders of African countries and development partners on pressing issues facing Africa, such as economic development, poverty, and conflict.
From 1993 to 2013, TICAD was held every five years. Since 2016, it is now held every three years, and convened alternately in Japan and Africa. TICAD has evolved into a significant global framework to facilitate the implementation of measures for promoting African development under the principles of African “ownership” and international “partnership”. I think that TICAD is an important component in Japan’s commitment to foster peace and stability in Africa. It is co-organised by the Japanese government, the United Nations (UN), the World Bank (WB), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the African Union Commission (AUC).
The conference’s stakeholders comprise all African countries and many development partners, including international and regional organisations, partner countries, the private sector, and civil society organisations.
TICAD7 has three pillars to focus on, namely accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement. The second pillar is deepening sustainable and resilient society, while the third pillar is strengthening peace and stability.
JICA seeks to help develop human resources with practical skills for African industries. This will also contribute to meet the needs of Japanese companies. This includes training programmes for mathematics and science teachers, support for vocational training and higher education, and kaizen Initiatives in manufacturing industry. Kaizen is a Japanese word means continuous improvement.
How does JICA support African young people?
JICA offers opportunities for young Africans to study masters in Japan and to receive internships at Japanese enterprises for contributing to the development of industries in Africa through the African Business Education initiative for youth (ABE initiative). Those young Africans will be the key drivers to enhance business cooperation between Japanese companies and Africa.
How many programmes has JICA’s office in Egypt implemented in Africa?
Egypt is a major power in the Middle East and Africa. Being the chair of the African Union (AU) this year and participating in the TICAD7 Summit as co-chair with Japan, Egypt plays an important role in development, peace, and stability in Africa.
By leveraging the outcomes of JICA’s past cooperation with Egypt, and by providing support to other regional countries in cooperation with the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD) affiliated to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, JICA aims to efficiently and effectively improve the capacity of each African country and strengthen regional cooperation.
Over 30 years of history, Egypt conducts training programmes for Africa. Technologies transferred through technical cooperation with JICA and facilities constructed through grant aid from Japan are still being utilised in current trainings. In 2018, JICA implemented 12 TCTPs for Africa in the fields of agriculture, health/medical care, and others, where 188 youth from 30 countries in Sub-Sahara African participated.
What is the size of finance that JICA provides in Africa?
JICA’s assistance for Africa has been increasing. It’s divided into three categories: loan aid, grant aid, and technical cooperation. In 2017, JICA’s assistance for Africa reached about JPY 2.736bn ($25.86m), compared to about JPY 1.778bn ($16.8m) in 2013, showing an annual increase.
Can you please elaborate on Japan’s efforts to build capacities of the Africans?
After TICAD (2013 – 2017), JICA implemented technical cooperation projects in human development centres in 11 locations, including Egypt, and the number of trainees reached 59,009 people, as well as 1,100 participants were invited to Japan, under ABE initiative. JICA seeks to expand the market-oriented smallholder horticulture empowerment & promotion (SHEP), which has substantially boosted the livelihood of smallholders in Kenya. JICA expanded the SHEP approach into 23 countries, including Egypt, providing training for 4,330 technical staff and 60,381 farmers all over Africa.
JICA promotes universal health coverage through financial and technical cooperation and training health service workers. During the period from 2013 to 2017, JICA provided JPY 68.377bn ($646.36m) for health sector, while training 120,520 health service workers.
JICA provides comprehensive support for African partner countries ranging from curriculum development, teacher learning assessment, educational development, and construction of schools. For example, Egypt-Japan education partnership.
What about your current portfolio in Africa and future projects?
After the end of TICAD7, chairpersons are going to announce the future directions of projects in Africa.
TICAD6 was the first to be held in the African continent, in Nairobi, Kenya. It was also the first TICAD since it was decided to be held once in three years. It was attended by 11,000 people including businesspersons from about 200 Japanese companies. The discussions were based on promoting structural economic transformation through economic diversification and industrialisation, promoting resilient health systems for quality of life, and promoting social stability for shared prosperity.
Interestingly, TICAD1 was held in 1993. The co-organizers vowed to reverse the decline in development assistance for Africa that had followed the end of the Cold War. Participants adopted the Tokyo Declaration on African Development, committing to the pursuit of political and economic reforms in Africa, increased private sector development, regional cooperation and integration, and the harnessing of Asian experience for the benefit of African development.
How do you assess Egypt’s government efforts to integrate with Africa?
JICA highly values the initiatives taken by the Egyptian government to become the gateway to African business and achieve the economic integration.
What areas will be the main priorities of JICA’s cooperation with Africa in the next five years?
TICAD7’s theme will be “Advancing Africa’s Development through People, Technology and Innovation” and we are considering these topics to become the priorities of JICA’s cooperation.
How many offices JICA has in Africa? Are there any plans to expand in the continent?
JICA has 30 offices in Africa, including Egypt office. So far, this matter is still under consideration.
Establishing strong infrastructure is one of the most important needs for Africa to develop, how can JICA assist on that?
JICA supports the construction of quality infrastructure that is essential for economic growth in Africa. One of the central pillars of JICA’s activities toward that end is corridor development, which aims at region-wide comprehensive industrial and infrastructure development planning. For transportation, JICA has been active in facilitating cross-border transactions by promoting the system of One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs).
Other areas in which JICA has been very active include urban development and energy.
Regional development and integration are an important perspective from which JICA approaches African development and to that end, JICA has introduced what it calls corridor development. On those development corridors, JICA assists its partner countries not only in infrastructure development, but also in regional industrial and social development, so that the private sector investment can be increased and the regional market can expand.
The idea is to achieve balanced growth of both coastal and inland regions of Africa.
As a result of rapid population growth in major cities on the African continent, problems such as heavy traffic, insufficient health services, and environmental pollution are arising. To help its partner countries fight these problems.
JICA formulates medium and long-term urban master plans, and financial and technical assistance in areas, such as building efficient transport systems, constructing electric power grids, and establishing water-supply, and waste treatment systems.
For many years, JICA has contributed to the stable supply of electricity in African countries. For example, JICA has formulated electric power master plans, rehabilitated aged electric power equipment, and extended power grids to provincial areas. For the development of national brassica advocates, the “3L Policy”: low cost, low carbon, and low risk. In recent years, JICA has contributed in building up the continent’s geothermal energy, which is expected to become an important renewable energy source in Kenya and other Great Rift Valley countries.
Will JICA collaborate with the Egyptian government in new projects in the next period? What are the sectors of future cooperation?
In light of the political importance of Egypt, its economic growth potential as well as business potential for Japanese companies, it is of great significance for JICA to assist in the development of Egypt, JICA selects three pillars of priority areas, each of which copes with the targeted three main areas, namely inclusive and sustainable growth, poverty reduction, and enhancement of standard of living, in addition to human resource development and public sector reform. Under the first main area, we focus on electricity, transportation, private sector, tourism, and cultural heritage. In the second main area, we pay attention to irrigation and rural development as well as basic social services. Under the third area, we focus on education, public sector empowerment, and south cooperation.
How do you assess the cooperation with Egypt in the field of education, with particular focus on the Japanese schools? Will 2019 witness the opening of new Japanese schools in Egypt?
JICA has been in cooperation with the Egyptian government in various levels of education, including early childhood development, basic education, technical education, and higher education. For basic education, we have been working with the Ministry of Education for introducing mainly “Tokkatsu” activities, which encourage students to think and act by themselves and thereby foster their character building. In 2018, 35 Egyptian-Japanese Schools (EJSs) opened as model schools that implement Tokkatsu activities intensively. We hear many positive feedbacks from the teachers and parents of students in the EJSs. In 2019, the Egyptian Ministry of Education is planning to open five more EJSs, bringing the total to 40 schools nationwide.
What about Japan’s interest in Egypt’s new projects, like Monorail, New Administrative Capital, and others?
JICA is always open to consider cooperating in new projects, which will contribute to the development in Egypt and Africa.