8th TICAD meeting: Japan seeks to rebuild influence in Africa

8th TICAD meeting: Japan seeks to rebuild influence in Africa

A Japan-supported international conference on African development — the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD 8 — will be held in Tunisia, August 27 to 28.

TICAD 8 is expected to focus chiefly on cooperation in the health care field, including the fight against such infectious diseases as the novel coronavirus. “The novel coronavirus has exposed the vulnerability of African countries in the health and medical fields,” according to Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

The two-day meeting, which may still be switched to a virtual format depending on the coronavirus situation, will be attended also by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The first meeting was held in Tokyo in 1993, and the last meeting in Yokohama in August 2019. The next conference will be the second TICAD meeting in Africa, after the one in Kenya in 2016.

According to observers, the meeting will give Japan a chance to get relations back on track after the upheavals of the pandemic and the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In the past, Tokyo largely exercised its influence on the continent through soft power and aid and development, while the private sector and commercial lenders have been more cautious. Yet Tokyo is hoping to give its private sector renewed impetus to invest in Africa and lend to the continent as economic engagement by its great geopolitical rival China drops off at the same time as the twin impacts of Covid-19 and the war in eastern Europe hit the global economy.

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