Japanese and African leaders from over 50 countries have kicked off the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD. The three-day event is focused on boosting Japanese private investment on the continent, where a growing number of countries are competing for influence.
Leaders have gathered in the city of Yokohama, near Tokyo. It’s the seventh time the event has been held since the conference began in 1993.
The Japanese government wants to use the occasion to unveil a three-year investment package, as it aims to expand its presence in the region.
The continent’s population is increasing rapidly, with the UN projecting that by 2050, one in four people on Earth will be African. Its economy has also been on the upswing, growing by around three percent a year.
Japan was a pioneer in hosting meetings with African leaders. Recently, it has shifted its strategy from aid to investment. But Japan lags behind other countries like China, which have a much larger business footprint. So Tokyo is now trying to make it easier for Japanese businesses to invest in African nations.
To counter Chinese investment, officials in Tokyo say they want to focus on high-quality infrastructure projects. And they are also expected to step up support for training young African engineers, among other things.
A number of events are already underway on the sidelines.
One of the biggest aims to promote corporate tie-ups. Over 150 Japanese companies and organizations from a range of industries are hoping to find African business partners.
Participants want to talk about pressing social issues as well, such as promoting health care and medical services.
Ebola and other epidemics have stood in the way of stable development in many African economies.