Two official side events of TICAD VI in Nairobi
“Japan-Africa Business Conference” and “Japan Fair”

August 2016

The 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) was held in Nairobi, Kenya, for two days from August 27 to 28, marking the first time for the conference to be held in Africa. JETRO took advantage of the occasion to hold two side events in the city, The Japan-Africa Business Conference and Japan Fair, which were joined by heads of government, key figures from political and industrial circles and business people from Japan, Kenya and other countries of Africa.

Discussion on forging business partnerships

The Japan-Africa Business Conference was jointly held by the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) and JETRO at an amphitheater within the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), the same venue as TICAD VI in Nairobi, for a two-day period between August 26 and 28. The event was also co-hosted by two Japanese publishers: Nikkei Publishing and Nikkei Business Publications. Over the entire period, the conference was joined by a total of approximately 1,400 participants from a wide range of organizations including both the private and public sectors of Japan and African countries.

In the conference on August 28, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated the following in his greetings: “the Government of Japan will cooperate through public and private sector efforts to achieve further economic development. We believe that private-sector companies have a significant role to play, and have decided to establish the ‘Japan-Africa Public and Private Economic Forum’ in order to further promote cooperation between African countries and Japan to facilitate investment in Africa by Japanese companies.” On the same day, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also said “We would like to promote economic growth and trade in Africa, in collaboration with Japan. ‘Industrialization,’ ‘diversification’ and ‘job creation’ are key issues for Africa, and we seek a long-term partnership with Japan to achieve them.” The opening session of the conference on August 26 was joined by Japanese State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yoshifumi Matsumura; Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto; and Cabinet Secretary of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Adan Mohammed. All speeches given by these guest speakers touched on the importance of the private sector, the expectations placed on Japan as a partner of Africa and high hopes for support to be provided by the Japanese Government.

Prime Minister Abe, President Kenyatta and other leaders from African countries

This two-day business conference program was begun with a keynote speech by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). In his address, he said “As the AfDB counts on a private sector capable of driving economic growth, we will continue our efforts to support it. In addition to assistance from Japan, we have high hopes for forging economic partnerships in terms of trade and investment.”

Following that, presentations were given by 60 companies and institutions from Japan and Africa under the theme of expanding trade and investment into Africa from Japan. From the Japan side, and divided into the categories of “manufacturing and service,” “tele-communication and IT” and “medical care and countermeasures for infectious diseases,” representatives gave presentations regarding their activities such as offshore development of software, development of medical equipment and prevention of infection. Japanese companies in the fields of “railway,” “power,” “environment,” “beauty care,” “public hygiene” and “resource development” also introduced potential business in Africa. The moderator of the session commented that the region should learn from Japanese companies how to add high value to manufacturing, given the importance of the industry for Africa.

The Africa side offered various messages to the Japan side regarding deepening business relations. In the panel discussion under the title of “From Hopelessness to Africa Rising,” a speaker illustrated the current state of affairs, in particular that, while Africa has potential for expanding its market and growing as an innovation hub, many barriers and problems for business, such as undeveloped infrastructure, still exist. Following this presentation, panelists discussed the idea that Africa should forge long-term partnerships with Japan in order to further develop its market. In the panel discussion under the title of “The Role of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as Drivers for Africa’s Economic Growth,” it was pointed out that in order to revitalize trade, improving infrastructure such as roads and railways across boarders and eliminating non-tariff trade barriers are necessary for Africa. Among panelists, some said that Japanese companies would have an interest in the establishment of a free trade zone by unifying multiple RECs in terms of building region-wide infrastructure such as traffic corridors. In other panel discussions, four local Japanese companies active in Africa introduced examples of business in fields such as real estate development, beverage manufacturing, sports, construction and food.

Role of “Japan Desks”

The signing ceremony for memorandums of understanding between companies and institutions from Africa and Japan was also held during The Japan-Africa Business Conference on August 28 in the presence of Prime Minister Abe, President Kenyatta, President Kagame of Rwanda, and President Rajaonarimampianina of Madagascar. The 73 MOUs signed in the ceremony help fix the direction of activities to be conducted through joint efforts by both the government and private sector from Africa and Japan. And through its own conclusion of MOUs with the AfDB and KenInvest individually, JETRO reached an agreement with each institute on mutual cooperation in order to promote trade and investment in African countries through business promotion.

Following the end of the conference, the Africa Investment Promotion Forum (AIPF), which has been conducted by JETRO since 2014, was introduced to participants. During the presentation, JETRO announced that “Japan Desks” will be set up within each investment promotion organization (IPO) of AIPF, which is composed of nine African countries (Kenya, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Egypt, Mozambique, South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania and Morocco), in addition to an “Africa Desks” within JETRO offices. This announcement revealed that the framework for supporting Japanese companies aspiring to expand business in Africa would be strengthened in both Africa and Japan.

Largest-ever Japan Fair contributing to business

During the three days from August 26 to 28, Japan Fair was also held at the same venue as the Japan-Africa Business Conference within the KICC. The event was participated in by 96 companies and institutes from Japan, a record-setting scale for this kind of trade fair in Africa. A wide range of fields in which great expectations are placed on Japan were represented, including infrastructure development, establishment of food value chains, environment and energy conservation and improvement of health and hygiene. Among these companies, nearly 30% were SMEs. The fair was also distinguished by the large number of exhibitions related to health and hygiene, which is a critical issue for Africa. Two local Japanese governments, the cities of Yokohama and Kobe, also participated. Mayor Fumiko Hayashi of Yokohama herself visited the venue and raised the awareness of officials from other countries regarding the achievements of TICAD, which is regularly held in Yokohama, and exchange activities between African countries and the city. She also promoted Yokohama as a potential model for urban development.

Sake cask-breaking ceremony during opening of Japan Fair

In the opening ceremony held in the amphitheater within the KICC, greetings were given by Japan’s State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yoshifumi Matsumura, and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Adan Mohammed. The fair was kicked off in the presence of many distinguished guests, including Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Megumi Kaneko, Vice-President Kazunori Tanaka of the Japan and African Union Parliamentary Friendship League, Sub-Sahara Committee Chairman Kunio Noji of Keidanren and Africa Committee Chairman Mamoru Sekiyama of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives.

In his opening remarks, State Minister Matsumura said “It is my hope that this trade fair will go down in legend as the headwaters of Japanese business in Africa.” Minister Mohammed said “I hope that this fair provides an opportunity for Japan and Africa to learn from one another and for investment to be drawn from Japan into Africa, where opportunities are blooming in accordance with its growing population.” Prime Minister Abe and President Kenyatta visited the fair on the first day of TICAD VI and dropped by each booth to listen to the explanations of exhibitors. Throughout its run, it was visited by many other dignitaries from Africa and Japan as well: Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida; Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Education Yasuhisa Shiozaki; President Ichiro Aizawa of the Japan and Africa Union Parliamentary Friendship League; President Jacob Zuma of South Africa; President Macky Sall of Senegal; and Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa of Tanzania.

Japan Fair attracted approximately 7,000 visitors, and during the event more than 1,500 business matching talks took place. Among them, 130 cases are expected to see a deal concluded. Next door within the KICC, Japan Fair was also joined by its sister events Africa Fair and Kenya Fair, under the joint title of “TICAD VI Japan-Africa Expo.” In Africa Fair, individual governments introduced their own business environments and export products, while international organizations and companies from African countries also opened their own booths, disseminating information on Africa toward Japanese companies. In Kenya Fair, which saw a large number of guests including the first ladies of Kenya and Japan, Margaret Kenyatta and Akie Abe, the local investment environment, tourism information and export products were introduced to visitors. Many Japanese exhibitors at Japan Fair stated that they felt a positive response from visitors, and expectations are high for business prospects in Africa.

Prime Minister Abe and President Kenyatta at Japan Fair, provided by the website of Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet