Statement by H.E. Mr. Tsuneo Nishida,
Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the General Debate of the General Assembly
on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development
17 October 2012
Today, the focus of the international community is on Africa, as the world’s new economic frontier after Asia. In recent years, the annual economic growth rate on the African continent has exceeded 5 percent.
On the other hand, Africa still faces various challenges including conflict and poverty. We must urgently strengthen efforts to help Africa take full advantage of its rich natural resources and growing population to realize economies and societies from which all people on the continent can benefit, including the socially vulnerable such as women and the poor. We must also strengthen our efforts to realize a resilient society against natural disasters such as droughts and other crises arising from economic and social changes.
The African economy, like all economies, is affected by the trends of the global economy. Therefore, in order to strengthen and diversify sectors that will foster robust and sustainable growth, the development of infrastructure in Africa is essential. For this reason, Japan strongly supports the “Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA)” which is an African initiative, and will take the priority set out in PIDA into consideration in implementing our own assistance.
We should note the fact that more than 40% of African population is under 15 years old. Youth employment is a matter of economic development, but also naturally a matter of security. It is critical for the young people to secure decent jobs, and job training for younger generation is an urgent issue.
Agriculture and food security are also key issues in Africa. In particular, rural development, with special care for women and small scale holders, also contributes to poverty eradication. Japan welcomes the fact that African countries are collectively committed, through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, to annually increasing their agricultural productivity by 6 percent and allocate 10 percent of their national budget toward agricultural investment.
Climate change is another serious issue which is closely related to agriculture and food security in Africa. Supporting Africa to adapt to climate change, such as by breeding variety of crops that are resistant to drought and developing irrigation facilities, is very important. Japan is currently contributing to this effort through the African Adaptation Program (AAP) and formulation of a strategy to promote low-carbon growth and climate resilient development under the framework of TICAD.
Regarding health issues, we have made significant progress in reducing under 5 mortality rates and curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Nevertheless, comprehensive efforts, including further efforts on promotion of maternal and child health, are necessary to accelerate the progress toward the achievement of the MDGs throughout Africa.
With regard to Peace and Security, which are necessary premises for sustainable economic growth, achievement of the MDGs, and the formation of inclusive and resilient societies, Japan welcomes the African initiatives through the African Union and sub-regional organizations on issues especially in relation with South Sudan, Mali, Somalia and Sahel region. It is important for the international community to support these African initiatives towards peace and security.
A General Assembly resolution on human security was adopted last month, co-facilitated by Jordan and Japan, and it is important to realize its benefits on the ground. Human security is an effective approach that focuses on individual people and helps build societies in which everyone can live with dignity by protecting and empowering individuals and communities that are exposed to actual or potential threats. Japan is determined to contribute to further promoting human security in every corner of the world in collaboration with all stakeholders, bearing in mind that the three pillars of the United Nations, namely; peace and security, development, and human rights, are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. As such, the human security approach is also important in the context of Africa.
Since 1993, the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) has been promoting African development by emphasizing both ownership by African countries and partnership by the international community, including my own country, Japan. Since the launch of NEPAD in 2001 the TICAD process has been contributing to the realization of the priorities of NEPAD, serving as an important framework of partnership. With the support of an increasing number of co-organizers including the United Nations, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the African Union Commission, TICAD has grown into an international forum with participation from international organizations, regional organizations, members of civil society, various donors and Asian countries .
In 2008, TICAD IV adopted the “Yokohama Action Plan”, which includes two main commitments, namely:
- Japan will double its ODA towards Africa to 1.8 billion dollars by 2012; and
- Japan will support to double its investment in Africa to 3.4 billion dollars by 2012.
Japan is steadily working to deliver these commitments. In regard to investment, Japan has actually achieved and surpassed its commitment, as our investments in Africa have in fact tripled, not doubled.
Last month, the GA adopted a resolution on “A monitoring mechanism to review commitments made towards Africa's development”, which emphasized the importance of the follow-up on the various commitments made on African development. Japan, in our TICAD process, has established a follow-up mechanism where we have been holding annual ministerial follow-up meetings to closely monitor the progress of the commitments made at the TICAD IV. This is a pioneering effort for improved accountability, and Japan is ready to share our experience.
From 1 to 3 June 2013, Japan, together with the UN, the World Bank, the UNDP and the AUC, will co-organize TICAD V in the city of Yokohama, commemorating the 20-year anniversary of the TICAD process and at the same time, the 50-year anniversary of the OAU. We are now in the process of preparing for TICAD V, which includes a Senior Officials’ Meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from November 15th to 17th and Ministerial Preparatory Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia early next year.
At TICAD V, we hope to strengthen both the ownership of African countries and partnership with development partners. We are also considering ways in which civil society and the private sector, whose involvement are critical for long-term self-sustaining development of Africa, can be incorporated into this process. Japan invites the participation of the African Heads of State and cooperation from development partners as we have done for all the previous TICAD meetings.
Let me just conclude my statement by reaffirming Japan’s unwavering long term commitment to African development.