Start of Japan-Africa Economic Cooperation Conference

Tunis, Tunisia — African heads of state, representatives of international organizations and private business leaders are in Tunisia this weekend for the eighth edition of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, a three-year event launched by Japan to promote growth and security in Africa.

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, a food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine, and climate change are among the challenges facing many African countries as well as some of the topics that are expected to define the two-day conference. days, which begins on Saturday.

As 30 African heads of state and government are due to attend the event in Tunisia’s capital Tunis, many key talks will be held remotely, including that of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who tested positive for COVID-19. 19 before the summit.

The Japanese government established and hosted the first TICAD summit in 1993. The conferences are now co-hosted with the United Nations, African Union and World Bank. Since the inaugural meeting, the summits have generated 26 development projects in 20 African countries.

This year, discussions around increased Japanese investment in Africa are expected – with a particular focus on supporting start-ups and food security initiatives. Japan has announced its intention to provide aid for rice production, alongside a food aid pledge of $130 million.

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies, an academic institution of the US Department of Defense, compared the conference format to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, “where leaders from government, business and civil society participate on an equal footing”.

However, this weekend’s summit has sparked controversy in Tunis, which is dealing with its own acute economic crisis, including a recent spike in food and fuel shortages.

Critics have denounced organizers’ alleged “whitewashing” of the city, which has seen cleaner streets and infrastructure improvements in preparation for the conference summit. A local commentator said the North African capital seemed to have put on makeup to impress attendees.

Meanwhile, Tunisia’s journalists’ union released a statement on Friday condemning restrictions on reporting and information around the summit.

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Follow all of AP’s coverage of Africa: https://apnews.com/hub/africa

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