Africa is ready to take on the world - Kenya’s Envoy

Ernest Moloi - Guardian reporter
Friday, 15 July 2016
Africa is ready to take on the world -  Kenya’s Envoy

Kenya’s Ambassador to Japan, H.E. Solomon Karanja Maina is confident that his country has the “requisite capacity” to host the first-ever TICAD VI conference scheduled for next month in Nairobi.

He told a group of African journalists touring Japan at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Wednesday during an interview in his offices in Tokyo that Kenya was very “proud” to have been bestowed with the “honour” to host the summit, which brings all African heads of state and government together with the Japanese Prime Minister and the other co-sponsors, United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank, African Union Commission and UNOSOC.

In their “good wisdom” the African leaders through the African Union selected Kenya to the venue of the first-ever TICAD Summit in Africa following the 2013 TICAD V Summit that was held in Yokohama, Japan. The Kenyan envoy was confident that Kenya would prove equal to the task during this “defining moment” of Africa’s history and rise to the occasion to pull a Summit that will set a “template” for future TICAD summits in Africa.

The reason is simple. “Kenya has facilities and capacity,” that is in terms of infrastructure and the “requisite human capacity”. It is the regional hub of east Africa and most importantly, has the “acumen” to undertake an exercise of this gigantic proportions. The country has in the recent past hosted big events such as the August 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit; the Pope in November 2015 at which two million people attended; the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in December and is bracing to host the 14th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) next week, in which three heads of state and over 3000 people will be in attendance.

Ambassador Maina also mentioned the recent visits to Kenya by the presidents of Turkey, South Korea and India to prove Kenya’s “experience” and ability to host big summits. The envoy expressed gratitude to the TICAD process for affirming the ‘ownership’ principle by alternating the summit between Japan and Africa after every three years. He said this was a good start given that five-years interval for summits had been very long in contrast to G7 and G20 which holds their meetings annually.  “TICAD VI even as it comes midway through TICAD V will allow us an opportunity to tackle new emerging issues such as Ebola; climate change; rising extremism; youth unemployment and terrorism.”

The Ambassador said the summit will also for the first-time ever include the direct participation of both African and Japanese companies in plenary sessions, something that has never happened since the process began in 1993. “This means business leaders will have a chance to talk directly to the presidents” and hopefully at the end of the summit, from the engagement of the business leaders, will emerge the Africa-Japan Business Association. Indeed, for the envoy, these are exciting times for Africa - the only continent experiencing growth currently; whose governments have also adopted liberal economic policies. Added to these, the fact that African Union Agenda 2063 is in accord with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) means for Maina that the “efficacuy of implementation” will be more clear.

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