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Intl conference on African development in Japan

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-06-01 11:15

YOKOHAMA - The Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) kicked off Saturday in Japan's Yokohama, with leaders from Japan and African countries participating to discuss topics on African development.

Under the overarching theme of "Hand in Hand with a More Dynamic Africa", the discussions will be focused on three themes: "Robust and Sustainable Economy," "Inclusive and Resilient Society" and "Peace and Stability".

Representatives from Japan, African countries, international organizations, donor countries, the private sector and civil society will produce an action plan including specific actions by Africa, Japan and the international community at the three-day international conference.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his opening remarks that Japan will provide a new aid package worth about 3.2 trillion yen ($32 billion) for Africa, including official development assistance, over the next five years.

The aid package includes offering about 650 billion yen in loans to help build the basic infrastructure and launching a new program to train young people in Africa.

The program, namely African Business Education Initiative for Youth (The ABE Initiative), will give 1,000 young African students opportunities to study at Japanese universities and work as interns at Japanese companies.

"Together with the ABE initiative, over the next five years, we will set about cultivating "business and industry savvy human capacities" that will lead to employment of 30 thousand individuals, making use of the human resources development already being implemented by JICA  and by HIDA -- The Overseas Human Resources and Industry Development Association -- while also utilizing the Japanese Government Scholarship program," Abe said during his speech.

Besides human resources, Abe also touched upon areas of health coverage, agriculture development, peace and stability forming during his speech.

Chairperson of the African Union Assembly and Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, said at the opening ceremony that over the past 10 years the economic growth of Africa has reached 5 percent, while economic forecasts for the African areas continued to be promising.

He said TICAD has become a multilateral platform to support the development of Africa in aspects of trades, education, health and infrastructure development and it is more important to make TICAD more result-oriented.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chair of the African Union Commission, Helen Clark, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme also addressed the ceremony.

The TICAD V is co-hosted by the Government of Japan, the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (UNOSAA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.

The first TICAD was hosted in 1993. Since then, a summit-level conference has been held in Japan once every five years. TICAD V marks the 20th anniversary of the event.

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