TICAD III: Providing new horizons for Asia-Africa partnership

Abidjan- Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) -- The Third Tokyo International Conference for Africa's Development (TICAD III), convening in the Japanese capital from 29 September to 1 October, no doubt provides a new horizon for Afro-Asian partnership in the new millennium.
With its stated aim to "strengthen partnership" within the international community for sustainable support to African countries, TICAD III, according to the Japanese embassy here, would focus on assisting Africa to take charge of its development process as defined by the continent itself.
A laudable twist in the Tokyo meeting would be the breakaway from the traditional assembly where donors decide on amounts to be disbursed to save Africa.
"It is not a meeting to announce pledges, but to express the (Japanese) philosophy for the development of Africa, which will be one of increased solidarity.
This new partnership should moreover relate to the goal fixed by the continent to achieve self-sufficiency and obtain the support of development partners," says the document "Tokyo Declaration on the organisation of TICAD III".
With its "Tokyo Action Plan", Japan has traditionally embarked on a "hand-in-hand" approach with its African partners.
This policy found concrete expression in the realisation of many projects in several African countries, including Cote d'Ivoire.
The outcome of Ivorian-Japanese cooperation under this system has been the realisation of achievements in several fields, with agriculture and technology notable sectors.
A novel revolution in the agricultural sector is reflected in the NERICA rice project -- production of a new rice variety generated by cross-breeding Asian and African varieties.
With a high yield (50 to 200%) and a short harvest cycle (90 to 140 days), NERICA, Africa's new "miracle rice", is well known to the Ivorian population.
The West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) research centre that developed this variety is based in the central Ivorian city of Bouake.
Japan-Cote d'Ivoire partnership is also pronounced in the mobile phone sector, with a popular demand here for Asian-made phone sets.
"Invest in Cote d'Ivoire (ICI)", a major trade and investment promotion undertaking under Asian-Ivorian cooperation, interrupted by political upheavals in the West African nation, saw the emergence of trade fairs, workshops and business forums to promote products between the two regions.
That Asians have built many of the Ivorian economic and other infrastructure can be seen, for example, in the cultural centre situated in Treichville, a business district in Abidjan, which hosted the Sixth African Arts and Entertainment Market, the biggest African cultural festival, from 30 August to 6 September this year.
The regime of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo maintains that while it intends to extend economic ties and cooperation to many countries, "traditional partners" from Asia remain reliable friends.
"We are extremely interested in the Asian destination," a close aide of President Gbagbo told PANA.

29 september 2003 13:38:00




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