Some 50 representatives from Africa – 43 of them being ministers, including our own Foreign minister, Dr. Lemogang Kwape - met virtually this past weekend with Japan’s foreign affairs minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa and State minister SUZUKI Takako to set out a pathway for African development ahead of the eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8) slated for 27-28th August 2022 in Tunisia.

The themes of the discussions centred on “people” and “quality growth”, as well as calls for international cooperation based on the three pillars of Economy, Society and Peace and Stability. Further, the African ministers had an opportunity to develop the bilateral relations between Japan and African countries as well as share the priorities of Japan’s diplomacy.

It is significant that Minister Dr. Kwape not only attended, but also underscored Botswana’s commitment to the principles that under-gird TICAD, which this year is on its eighth lap, Tunisia being the second African country to host this Summit after Kenya in 2016 since it was inaugurated in 1993.

TICAD, by the admission of HOSHIYAMA Takashi, Ambassador of Japan to Botswana is the “flagship of Japan’s diplomacy towards Africa” and is relevant to Botswana's development.

Dr. Kwape underscored the need to scale up the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and identified ICT as one of the areas to be discussed and assisted under the TICAD Framework.

As it trudges on the ambitious path towards becoming a Knowledge Based Economy, Botswana certainly can do with support from First World countries such as Japan, which ranks among the world’s biggest economies. We trust that as the Ambassador promised to work jointly with Botswana government to deliver a successful TICAD 8, our state agents and private sector businesses will be ready to exploit the opportunities that Japan’s private sector brings to Africa in August.

Admittedly, we stumbled big time in 2016 when instead of making a good first impression to the Japanese government and its private sector, we instead, sent a Minister to represent the President at the Summit of Heads of State and Government. We trust that this time around, we will assemble a strong team that will pitch not only to the Japanese government, but also to its private sector. The Japanese private sector’s presence is very minimal here in Botswana, in-fact, it is largely confined to the mining equipment.

However, Japan leads in technological advancement in the area of clean energy that is why we urge Botswana, and especially Morupule Coal Mine to enlist Japanese technology under the aegis of TICAD 8 to clean its coal, so that it does not emit harmful gases into the atmosphere. Japan has also been lobbying for the raising of additional funding to secure necessary Covid vaccines for developing countries.

At the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit in December 2021 which Japan hosted, Japan called for concrete actions to promote global improvement of nutrition including in Africa. Financial contribution amounting to over US$ 27 billion was announced.

The first TICAD was held in 1993 in Tokyo. It was an opportunity to bring back global attention to Africa in the Post-Cold War era.

We can trust that TICAD 8 in August this year, will build on the progress made over all these years since 1993.