Ahunna Eziakonwa delivers her opening remarks at the TICAD Ministerial Meeting Side Event, Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Hideyuki Mohri / UNDP Tokyo

Good Afternoon Excellencies,

  • Your Excellency, Masahisa Sato State Minister for Foreign Affairs,
  • Your Excellency, Estifanos Afeworki Ambassador of Eritrea, Dean, African Diplomatic Corps in Japan
  • Dr. Kouassi N’guettia, Director of Economic Affairs, African Union Commission,
  • Ms. Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala Vice President, African Development Bank,
  • Mr. Toshitake Kurosawa Director, World Bank, IFC Tokyo Office,
  • Dr. Ayodele Odusola, Chief Economist UNDP Africa


Representative of African and Japanese private sectors

Ladies, Gentlemen Distinguished Guests, members of the press, Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to present the Opening Remarks of this TICAD Ministerial Meeting Side Event on “Leveraging Africa’s Business Opportunities: A Call for the Japanese Business Sector”.

Let me begin by thanking the Government of Japan, the Japan External Trade Organization, and the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for co-organising with UNDP this important and distinctive event that brings together business leaders across the African and Japanese private sectors.

Both the African Union Agenda 2063 and the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (or the SDGs) underpin the centrality of the private sector in promoting inclusive, shared and sustainable development. Through genuine businesses and investments, the private sector can serve as the engine of growth and the catalyst for structural economic transformation that Africa needs to generate decent jobs and economic opportunities for its youths and create incomes and wealth for all.

Africa does not need charity but genuine investments and inclusive businesses that help galvanize economic diversification and industrialization and facilitate the achievement of the SDGs and Agenda 2063.

Good news. In Africa, investment opportunities—in agriculture, education, energy, infrastructure, manufacturing, and smart cities—are immense.

In Africa, each of the SDGs offers business opportunities. Leveraging these opportunities is key to facilitating business partnership between Africa and Japanese business actors.  Some Japanese businesses have already started to leverage these SDGs-induced opportunities. Among the numerous initiatives already started include the insect proofing mosquito nets technology by Sumitomo Chemical, the desalinating seawater technology by the JGC and Hitachi, and the weather index insurance by Sompo Japan Niponkoa. Innovations on renewable energy are also transforming lives in Africa.

Deepening strategic partnership between African and Japanese businesses to provide development solutions to the challenges pose by the SDGs will not only help achieve the objectives of TICAD but also help accelerate the achievement of the SDGs and Agenda 2063.

Businesses in Africa, like several other developing countries, face economic, political, and social risks that reduce their ability to make long-term investment decisions.

But things are changing for the better. The 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance shows 40 African countries improved their governance index over the past ten years. Moreover, three African countries (Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia) were among the top 10 improvers in the 2018 Doing Business Index globally - based on reforms undertaken. Countries like Mauritius, Rwanda, Kenya, Botswana and South Africa ranked favourably well on doing business.

UNDP is committed to continue to work with the African Governments, the Government of Japan, the African and Japanese private sectors and other development partners to address emerging risks and to improve business competitiveness environment in Africa.

In conclusion, harnessing African-Japanese business partnership is key to achieving the SDGs. I, therefore, enjoin you to focus your discussion on practical solutions that could help strengthen African-Japanese business engagements.

In this regard, I want to challenge all of you to focus your discussions to provide answers to the following questions:

  • What are the business opportunities in Africa that are of interest to Japanese private sector?
  • What are the key drivers of successful businesses that could accelerate African-Japanese business partnerships?
  • What are the specific concrete actions that the African and Japanese business communities must take to accelerate enduring partnerships?
  • How can the international financial institutions like the World Bank and AfDB, Japanese and African governments, and development partners help de-risk investment climate in Africa?   

As the lyrics of the famous Louis Daniel Armstrong say, “It takes two to tango”.  It is only when both the African and Japanese private sectors are committed to genuine businesses and investments that can lead to a win-win partnership.

I wish you very fruitful discussions.

Thank you.

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