May 28, 2008— Over 40 African heads of state joined high-level representatives from Asian countries and international organizations from May 28-30 in Yokohama, Japan, for the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV).
Hosted by the Government of Japan, the conference aims to promote dialogue among African leaders and development partners and to facilitate greater cooperation between Asia and Africa in addressing development issues.
The main agenda items this year included:
Boosting Economic Growth
Ensuring Human Security (achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the consolidation of peace and democratization)
Addressing Environmental Issues/Climate Change
A TICAD IV Action Plan, including a monitoring mechanism, is expected to address these issues. Organizers are taking a more action-oriented approach than in years past and will propose specific initiatives to respond to these challenges.
Participants also are expected to discuss the global food price crisis and its impact on Africa. In the past year, the price of wheat has gone up by 120 percent. Rice prices have skyrocketed to near historic levels – rising about 75 percent globally.
Riots over the rising prices have broken out in several African countries including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Mozambique, and Senegal. According to World Bank estimates, the price spike could push over 100 million people deeper into poverty.
World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick addressed the plenary session today and will be participating in a discussion of food prices organized in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
In his address to the conference’s plenary session, Zoellick welcomed Japan’s overseas development assistance, especially its support for replenishing IDA. He also welcomed Japan’s growing interest in Africa, a shift from its traditional focus on neighboring Asian countries.
“The Japanese public and officials are recognizing the growing importance of Africa. So it helps for Japan to hear from Africans about your plans,” Zoellick said.
Zoellick also spoke about his belief that Africa can become a new pole of global growth in one generation.
“I have heard what a new generation of Africans believe they can achieve, and I’ve seen encouraging progress,” Zoellick said. “I also see that Africans want growth. They want what Japanese and Europeans wanted as they reconstructed some 60 years ago. Infrastructure, energy, regional integration connected to an open global trading system, with an expanding private sector for businesses small and large,” he said.
The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) was launched in 1993 and has been held every five years since.
TICAD objectives are two-fold:
to promote high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and their partners
to mobilize support for African-owned development initiatives.
According to organizers, these objectives are embodied in the concept of “ownership” and “partnership”.