April 1, 2023

Tunisia, Tunisia (AP) — African heads of state, representatives of international organizations and private business leaders will be in Tunisia this weekend for the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, a triennial event launched by Japan to Promoting growth and a secure Africa in Africa.

Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, food crisis Worsening due to Russia’s war in Ukraine and climate change is one of the challenges facing many African countries and some of the themes expected to be defined in the two-day conference that begins Saturday.

While 30 African heads of state and government will attend the event in the Tunisian capital Tunis, many key talks will be held remotely, including that of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who has tested positive for COVID-19 before the summit.

The Japanese government created and hosted the first TICAD Summit in 1993. These meetings are now jointly organized by the United Nations, the African Union and the World Bank. Since its inaugural meeting, the summit has produced 26 development projects in 20 African countries.

This year, discussions are expected to revolve around increasing Japanese investment in Africa – with a particular focus on supporting start-ups and food security initiatives. Japan has indicated plans to provide aid in rice production, while pledging $130 million in food aid.

The Center for Strategic Studies in Africa, an academic arm of the U.S. Department of Defense, compared the format of the conference to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where “government, business and civil society leaders participate on an equal footing.”

However, this weekend’s summit sparked controversy in Tunisia, which itself faces a severe economic crisis, including a recent spike in food and gasoline shortages.

Critics have spoken out about what organizers call “whitewashing” the city, which has seen cleaner streets and infrastructure improvements in preparation for the conference summit. A local commentator said the North African capital looked like it was wearing make-up to impress the participants.

Meanwhile, the Tunisian Union of Journalists issued a statement on Friday condemning restrictions on coverage and information on the summit.


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