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An African Development Bank (AfDB) Group delegation led by the institution’s president, Donald Kaberuka, last week attended the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV). Held in Yokohama, Japan, from May 28-30, 2008, on the theme: "Towards a vibrant Africa: Continent of Hope and Opportunity", the event focused on Boosting Economic Growth in Africa; Ensuring Human Security through Achieving the MDGs and Consolidating Peace in Africa; as well as Addressing Environmental /Climate Change Issues in Africa. Hosted by the Japanese government in collaboration with the UN and the World Bank, the event brought together 2,500 participants, including representatives of 51 African countries, among whom were 40 African heads of state and government, over 70 international organizations and civil society. Speaking during the occasion, Japanese Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, announced an additional US$4 billion Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans for Africa, designed to support, in particular, infrastructure development over the next five years. Japan has also committed to double its ODA as well as private sector investments by 2012.
Bank Group President Kaberuka used the occasion to meet with the Japanese Foreign Minister during which an additional line of credit worth US$300 million for a non-sovereign loans component under Japan’s Enhanced Private Sector Assistance (EPSA) for Africa was announced. He also held a series of high-level consultations with Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Omar Bongo of Gabon, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, and Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. He also met with WFP Executive Director, UN Deputy Secretary-General, President of Global Health Program of Gates Foundation, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President, as well as the Governor of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). During the discussion with the Japanese Finance Minister, both parties agreed to intensify the AfDB-Japan collaboration on regional infrastructure development and rice production in Africa. The TICAD IV served as an opportunity for participants to underscore the centrality of national and regional infrastructure development on the continent. Regarding the current food crisis, participants agreed that emergency food aid was necessary, but it was also necessary to carry out medium-to-long-term interventions, with special attention on the division of roles and complementarity among various development agencies.
Mr. Kaberuka led discussions on infrastructure development which is key to achieving economic growth on the continent. He also participated actively as a panelist in the international symposium on "Economic Growth in Africa and Asia" hosted by JICA President, with co-panelists including Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Former President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Prof. Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University.
The TICAD IV meeting was also an opportunity for the Bank and the University of Japan to promote partnership on higher education, science and technology. Mr. Kaberuka and the President of Tsukuba University of Japan signed a memorandum of understanding during the event.