YOKOHAMA: Japan is shifting its policy on Africa from foreign aid to private investments, with $20 billion (about P218 billion), expected to be committed to the development of the continent in the next three years.
The change in Japan policy on Africa came to the fore at the recent 7th Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD 7), held in the city of Yokohama. Between 28-30 August 2019, several African Head of States and Ministers; including Botswana’s Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Dr Unity Dow, as well as Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Bogolo Kenewendo, participated in the summit-level dialogue forum in Yokohama.
TICAD was launched in 1993, by the Government of Japan, to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership. The summit is now co-organised by the Government of Japan in partnership with African Union Commission, World Bank and United Nation Development Programme (UNDP).
Japan, the third largest economy in the world after United States and China, has committed to not only shifting its policy in Africa but also to helping Africa countries in dealing with debt, an issue which has become a huge concern and centre of debate in development economics in Africa. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to provide limitless support” for investment and entrepreneurship and to aggressively promote private-sector investment in Africa. Abe said his government will do whatever it takes to assist the advancement of Japanese companies in Africa.
“I make this pledge to you. The government of Japan will put forth every possible effort so that the power of Japanese private investment of $20 billion in three years should, in the years to come, be surpassed anew from one day to the next,” Abe said when officially opening the conference.
Japan unveiled a plan to send experts to 30 African countries to train local officials in charge of sovereign debt and risk management. Botswana which as one of the most prudent and revered macro-economic climate, may not necessarily be the target but scores of African countries have raised eye brows concerning their debts levels. The position is consistent with the view that African countries may be finding themselves with huge debts which may prevent them from developing at the necessary levels.
The greatest advance of the last three years since TICAD VI in Nairobi, has been the launch of the Japan-Africa Business Forum. TICAD is reborn, according to the Japanese Prime Minister. “Our New TICAD will lift to new heights the double E’s-double I’s of “entrepreneurship” and “enterprise,” “investment” and “innovation.”,” said Abe. Japan’s most innovative start-ups have received boost from the Prime Minister, who indicated that government should meet companies who are committed to invest in Africa half way.
“’So, what should the government do to enable entrepreneurs like Mr. Akita to make the most of their abilities? The questions the Government of Japan should ask all boil down to that single point,” he said. “One thing is to foster human resources, while another is to provide quality infrastructure. And yet another is making it easy to access capital.” Japan will choose ten priority countries each year for the next three years, with a total of thirty countries, expected to benefit from provision of training in sovereign debt and risk management.
“’To Ghana and Zambia, we will send advisers on debt management and macroeconomic management,” Abe said. The Government of Japan also promised to play a role in enhancing agricultural competitiveness, an important area for Africa. “Japan has a great many agricultural specialists who have been instrumental in assisting our own local governments. They will jump at the opportunity to put their skills to work in order to help Africa. Those are the kinds of people who will be heading to local communities from now,” he stated.
By 2030, through cooperation with various countries, we hope to double the current production of rice in the whole of Africa to 56 million tons, the Prime Minister said. “This is my third TICAD. I now see that you sit behind the wheel, which is most encouraging. In Africa, some countries have joined top nations in the rankings on the ease of doing business. The scale of the market continues expanding. We can envision a day when the entire continent becomes an enormous economic zone,” he noted.
“The AU has a highly ambitious long-term plan, with its target year set in 2063. For anyone now in your 20s, that's a future realisable within your own goals. As you turn your eyes to Africa — to the land of potential — I wholeheartedly wish that you make the greatest leap in the continent.”
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.