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.”
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.
The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.
He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison. In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned. Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.
Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated
He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated
He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted
Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.
‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it. ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated
He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added
He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.
Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’
The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.
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Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.
“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”
The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.
“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”
According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”