Eminent Speakers Series: Africa has made steady progress, says JICA President

16/06/2009
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Ogata

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President, Sadako Ogata, has said Africa has made steady progress over the years, showing an average economic growth of 6% since the 1990s. Mrs. Ogata made this statement while delivering a lecture in Tunis on the theme: Peace and Development in Africa: Upholding the Conditions” to Bank staff, members of the diplomatic corps, the media and development specialists. The lecture falls within the framework of the Bank’s Eminent Speakers Series.

“Based on the stabilization of the macro-economy, an encouraging progress has been made in the provision of social services such as education, health and water supply,” she said, adding that “the expansion of oil extracting capacity or the extraction of petroleum reserves have added to the overall growth of the continent.”

She pointed out that “Africa is taking great strides to realize the outstanding potential of its own people through self-reliant development. The challenge for Africa is to ensure sustainable economic growth under African initiative. Timely international assistance to Africa will foster both political stability and effective economic development.”

On development assistance, the former UN high commissioner for refugees said that since the 1990s, development cooperation had sought ways not only to alleviate poverty, but also to contribute to economic management and state governance. The development community, she said, had become fully involved in post-conflict recovery and peace building operations; though it had not yet identified its role nor clarified its policies on conflict prevention. 

Regarding development aid and conflict prevention, she pointed out that key challenges to spreading the benefits of economic growth include containing military action, providing a basic living environment and creating a balanced socio-economic foundation. She added that development aid could and should play a large role in reconstruction with a clear view to contributing to preventing conflicts. 

“In fact, there is growing recognition among members of the United Nations and various government circles of the vital importance of addressing conflict prevention. The support of preventive action grew in the aftermath of the disastrous consequences of the 1990s in many parts of the world, most especially in the Great Lakes region of Africa that caused the genocide in Rwanda. However, looking back on the major conflicts of our times, we note that we have tended to overlook the economic, social and political downturns which lead to extensive and devastating conflicts. If I were to modify our individual assistance with conflict prevention in view, greater attention would have to be directed to comprehending and addressing situations of serious and sudden downturns,” she said. 

Speaking about the organization she leads, Mrs. Ogata said JICA had entered into important partnership relations with the AfDB, with both organizations signing a memorandum of understanding to strengthen collaboration with a view to ensuring sustained economic growth across the continent. She advised that both institutions had agreed that the areas of cooperation would be broad-based, covering regional infrastructure development, agricultural productivity, private sector development, the environment and climate change, water and sanitation as well as post-conflict situations. She advised that JICA had, in 2008, disbursed US$ 670 million under Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan scheme for Africa, together with grant aid and technical cooperation. The cooperation with the African Development Bank has been scaled up, she stressed.

Interview with Executive Director for Japan, Tetsuya Utamura

“My country intends to expand its role as the main shareholder of the Bank Group. For us, private sector is key to Africa’s development. AfDB and Japan will also work together in the area of science of technology to make the Green Africa Initiative happen,” said Executive Director for Japan, Tetsuya Utamura on the sideline of Ogata Sadako’s visit to the Bank Group.