Leaders also agree to give youth and women opportunities and bigger role to the private sector.
African leaders and Japan have committed themselves to tame the rising threat of extremism, piracy on the seas and to improve the business environment on the continent.
In the latest bid to rid the continent of poverty, the leaders or their representatives from 54 African nations and Japan on Sunday evening adopted by acclamation a statement declaring to give opportunities to the youth and women and a bigger role for the private sector to boost economies.
“We resolve to promote social stability by responding comprehensively to security concerns. In this regard, we emphasise that protecting and empowering individuals, especially youth and women, families and their communities by improving access to education, technical and vocational training, job creation and opportunity, and promoting social cohesion, are fundamental,” they said in the Nairobi Declaration.
The statement marked the end of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad VI), happening for the first time on African soil, and the sixth since 1993. In many ways, the statement repeated what leaders pledged at the last meeting in Yokohama in Japan in 2013.
At the time, African leaders and Japan agreed in a document titled the Yokohama Action Plan to boost economies through trade, build more infrastructure and invest in modern agriculture. They also agreed to invest in healthcare, support science and technology innovations as well as invest in disaster management. In total, Japan pledged to give Africa $32 billion (Sh3.2 trillion).
In Nairobi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised an additional $10 billion (Sh1 trillion) which could rise to $30 billion (Sh3 trillion) if combined with investments from the Japanese private sector.
But this time, the leaders agreed that the rising threat of violent extremism, conflicts and piracy could dent all those investments. “We reaffirm our commitment to address the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism. We call for enhanced international cooperation to strengthen counter-terrorism capacity in Africa,” they pledged.
GIVEN 132 SCHOLARSHIPS
Mr Abe announced that his government will pump in $500 million for vocational training for 50,000 youth in Africa to dissuade them from joining terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab. Tokyo hopes that by the end of 2019, about 9.6 million youth would have benefited from the training.
Already, Japan has given 132 scholarships to Kenyan students and the number will rise every year.
(READ: Japan proves it’s a true friend of Africa)
The leaders agreed that the private sector should be given more room to do business and 22 Japanese firms signed 73 MoUs with development agencies from 26 African countries and international organisations. “We emphasise the significant role played by the private sector and the importance of improving the business environment to promote trade and investment to create employment, especially for women and youth.
“We will take measures to enhance the role of the private sector in development, including through increased private investment, entrepreneurship, business reform, public-private partnership and financing,” they said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta used the forum to pledge Kenya’s commitment to improving the working environment for businesses by reducing the application time for documents and making it easier to file tax returns.
“The private sector will tell you that a conducive environment is their greatest concern, but the regulatory reforms undertaken by various African countries including Kenya show that these have made it easier to do business in the past year,” President Kenyatta told a forum on the role of the private sector in Africa’s economic transformation.
According to the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal and Benin were among the top 10 most improved countries in this category.