The 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) was graced by president Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who became the first Congolese head of state to attend a TICAD summit in person.
Tshisekedi who took office in January this year, was in Japan to find support for his economic policy.
During bilateral meetings with his counterparts, he met with the business community, in particular with major companies attending the Japan-Africa Forum organized by the Japanese government.
“Japan left good memories in Congo. I am thinking of the Maréchal bridge, I am thinking of the avenue des poids lourds… which are structures that have remained intact for years,’‘ Tshisekedi said.
TICAD countries have opted for a more trade-oriented cooperation between Japan and Africa. In order to accelerate the continent’s development through business, the Japanese Foreign Trade Organization (JETRO) proposed to support African companies in structuring their projects in accordance with Tokyo standards.
“So far, Africa has been the destination of financial assistance for us. Recently, Japanese investment and business aid inflows – in terms of exports – to Africa have become the focus of Japanese companies,’‘ said Noanori Yamada, JETRO’s public relations officer. Nearly 15,000 kilometres from the Japanese capital, the Congolese Investment Promotion Agency (ANAPI) in Kinshasa also offers support to local businesses.
While Japan calls for more economic cooperation, ANAPI asks Tokyo to support the DRC on infrastructure issue.
“Today with Japan, we no longer have access to certain funds under concessional conditions. We hope that we can achieve this,’‘ said Anthony Nkinzo Kamole, the managing director of ANAPI-DRC.
‘‘What we are waiting for is for us to be able to have a look at the electricity issue. I’m talking about Inga; I’m talking about the Great Inga, for example. We expect them to participate on the infrastructure issue.’‘
Japan’s commitment to human security issues, particularly Ebola research, is visible at the Institut de recherche biomédicale in Kinshasa.
“A whole team from Japan has arrived to be able to prepare the other provinces that are adjacent to the regions that are currently affected: so prepare them in case the epidemic ever comes to these provinces, especially Tshopo province,’‘ explained Pr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe, the General Director at the DRC National Institute for Biomedical Research.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) supports the work of Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe. Winner of the Hideyo Noguchi Prize, the scientist’s commitment also encouraged Tokyo to undertake the modernization of the Institut de recherche biomédicale de Kinshasa.