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Three Decades of Promoting Ownership and Partnership: History of TICAD

Tunisia will host the eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8) from August 27 to 28, 2022.

This will be the eighth conference since the first one was held in Tokyo in 1993, marking its 29th year.

The conference has been centered on ownership and partnership since its first meeting, says a special report by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) entitled "Three Decades of Promoting Ownership and Partnership: A Look at the History of TICAD." However, it has updated its cooperation in response to the challenges of each era, such as "human security" and "sustainable development goals."

TICAD 8 will be asked how to achieve resilience, inclusiveness, and abundance in Africa in the face of external crises such as the global outbreak of the new coronavirus, climate change and the situation in Ukraine.

It aims to promote high-level policy dialogue among participating African leaders and development partners, and mobilise support for African self-help development initiatives.

It is jointly organised by Japan, the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank.

The concepts of "ownership" and "partnership" indicated by then Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa in his keynote speech were pioneering concepts that have not only remained the core philosophy of TICAD to this day, but have also become the standard for African development conferences by various countries and organisations.

Recipient countries should take initiative in self-development

The ownership or "respecting ownership" is that of actively supporting the self-help efforts of developing countries. Japan has been a pioneer in advocating this concept earlier than the West. Based on its own history and experience in providing assistance to Southeast Asian countries, Japan believed that recipient countries should take the initiative in developing their own countries, which would lead to true economic independence.

Respect for partnerships is also the idea that, in order to support ownership by recipient countries, they should cooperate with diverse actors, including international organisations and non-governmental organisations.

TICAD I determined the framework of TICAD to be an open and multi-lateral platform where not only Africa and Japan but also international community discuss together on how to promote and support Africa's development.

TICAD II was held five years later, in October 1998, under the primary theme of "Poverty Reduction and Integration into the Global Economy. It reaffirmed the importance of ownership and global partnership, and reorganised the various issues raised at TICAD I into the three pillars of "Social Development and Poverty Reduction", "Economic Development" and "Basic Foundations for Development.”

TICAD III, in 2003, presented several founding concepts for the future, namely “leadership and public participation,” "peace and good governance," "human security," and "respect for Africa's distinctiveness, diversity and identity.”

The theme of TICAD 4 in 2008 was “Toward a Vibrant Africa - A Continent of Hope and Opportunity.” The Yokohama Declaration, the outcome document, set “Boosting Economic Growth" as the first agenda item, followed by "Achieving the MDGs and ensuring human security, "the Consolidation of peace and good governance" and "Addressing environmental issues."

Private sector investment in Africa was the focus in TICAD 5, as “From Aid to Investment” was selected as the slogan. Then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to invest $32 billion from public and private sectors to Africa in five years to come.

Promoting economic transformation

Since TICAD V, TICAD has alternated between Africa and Japan every three years, with TICAD VI taking place in Kenya in 2016.

In light of Africa's emerging vulnerabilities, the TICAD VI conference renewed attention on measures to ensure that Africa's economic growth is sustainable.

Three new pillars were established as priority areas: "Promoting structural economic transformation through economic diversification and industrialisation," "Promoting resilient health systems for quality of life," and "Promoting social stability for shared prosperity."

The Yokohama Declaration 2019 identifies global challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, biodiversity loss, poverty and inequality. With regard to cooperation with the private sector, TICAD7 goes further than in the past by including the private sector as a partner for the first time in history, which is in line with the SDGs' philosophy of encouraging proactive action by diverse actors. It focused the potential of digitalisation and innovation by African young entrepreneurs.