Opening remarks by H.E. Mr. Tsuneo Nishida
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
on the occasion of the Panel Discussion on
“Good Growth and Governance in Africa –
Rethinking Development Strategies”
Monday, 9 April 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to welcome you all to this panel discussion on “Good Growth and Governance in Africa – Rethinking Development Strategies”. I am privileged to co-chair this event with my colleague Ambassador Zinsou of Benin, in his capacity as the holder of the African Union Presidency, and would like to thank his team who have undertaken the task of preparing for today’s discussion. On this occasion, I would also like to thank Mr. Diarra, Under-Secretary General and UN Special Advisor on Africa, who has agreed to take the important role of moderating this discussion. My thanks also go to all the panelists who have come from near and far despite their very tight schedules to present to us their wisdom and enlighten us on how we may perceive African development.
African development is still one of the major challenges that the international community is confronted with. Despite notable progress in the reduction of poverty and hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa, there are still several MDG targets that show slow progress in Africa, in particular the generation of employment, improving sanitation and maternal health, and reducing child mortality. The international community, including Member States and UN Organizations, should pay the special attention to the overall development of this region.
In the early 90’s, when “aid fatigue” was setting in after the Cold War, Japan launched the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in order to refocus international attention on the importance and urgency of African development issues. Japan has stressed the importance of “Africa’s ownership” of its own development as well as the importance of “partnership” between Africa and the international community. One of the main features of TICAD is cooperation between Asia and Africa.
Indeed, the recently published book titled “Good Growth and Governance in Africa – Rethinking Development Strategies” edited by Professors Noman and Stigliz and others, specifically highlights this question of how the East Asian experience of the “developmental state” can be relevant to provide policy alternatives for development in the African context. I understand that the panelists will be presenting to us the essence of the 18 thought-provoking articles contained in this book. From Japan’s perspective, I am encouraged to see that intellectual work is now beginning to converge with Japan’s original intention when we initiated the TICAD process 20 years ago, in terms of how we are to approach African development.
The Fourth TICAD Ministerial Follow-up Meeting will be held in Marrakech, Morocco from 5-6 May. This is the last annual follow-up meeting prior to and also the starting point for the preparation process of TICAD V, which will be held from 1-3 June, 2013 in Yokohama, Japan. Japan will continue to faithfully implement all the TICAD IV pledges, which include doubling the amount of Japan’s ODA to Africa by 2012; a goal we have already achieved. We will continue to be “the” reliable partner of Africa, and at the same time, we are determined to pioneer approaches that better support African countries’ various development strategies.
Lastly, I would like to encourage all the panelists to challenge us with refreshing perspectives on how to approach African development. Deliberations in the United Nations on development are often confined within traditional perceptions. We all need to catch-up with the emerging realities of the present world, as well as with the latest academic findings. I hope that this panel discussion will contribute to pushing our thinking forward in the right direction.
On that note, I now would like to ask Mr. Diarra to commence this exciting discussion.