Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
TICAD process – a forum for Africa
By Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia The TICAD process – the Tokyo International Conference on African Development — has from the very beginning played an important role in highlighting the challenges of development in Africa. This was particularly important in the early 90’s when the TICAD process was initiated as Africa faced the risk of marginilisation in the immediate post-cold-war period.
A number of similar processes have now been initiated but the fact remains that the TICAD process was a pioneer and continued to be a very important forum for discussing issues of global partnership to combat poverty in Africa.
The TICAD process is unique in that it has served as a forum for sharing the developmental experience of Japan and other East Asian countries and to involve the emerging economies of Asia in supporting African development.
East Asia had the most successful experience of combating poverty in the 20th century. Africa can and should learn a lot from this successful experience. One must admit that this was far from being the case in the early 90’s and to some extent even now. TICAD thus served as a welcome and unique opportunity for Africa to learn from the East Asian experience of development and to partner with countries in East Asia who had developed or were well on the way to doing so.
Many things have changed in Africa since the advent of TICAD. The Organisation of African Unity has been transformed into the African Union to further promote continental political and economic integration. And Africa has come up with its own path of development with its NEPAD programme.
African economies are now doing much better than when TICAD was first established. The risk of marginalisation of Africa has now receded. TICAD must therefore take note of these changes and adjust, while at the same time maintaining its unique and beneficial characteristics.
TICAD should to continue to be a forum for Africa to learn from the developmental successes of East Asia and to forge closer trade and investment links as well as social and cultural exchanges with the region. A review of what has been done in this regard since the advent of TICAD should be carried out with the view to enhancing the effectiveness of these linkages and partnerships.
TICAD should take note of the fact that Africa is, through the African Union and NEPAD, more and more speaking with one voice. As such, the AU and NEPAD should become the primary interlocutors of Japan in the TICAD process.
Such an approach would not and should not replace the fruitful relations that Japan has with many African countries but should provide a continental framework for such bilateral relations and hence enhance the relationship between Africa and Japan.
As someone who has attended all the TICAD summits except the first one, I attach great importance to the TICAD process. I look forward to TICAD IV because I am confident that TICAD IV will build on the success of the previous summits and pave the way for a closer and more fruitful partnership between Japan and Africa in the 21st century.
* TICAD IV will be held in Yokohama, Japan, on 28-30 May 2008. Source : NEPAD, 24 AOÛT 2007