A record 40 African heads of state and government, almost twice as big the 2003 number, are in Japan attending the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. Organised at a summit level, the meeting which convenes every five years is the fourth, the inaugural one having been held 15 years ago.
That the traditionally Tokyo-based event is for the first time taking place away from the capital in the port city of Yokohama, and yet retained the Tokyo label is not the only highlight. Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has pledged that his country will have doubled the current aid amount for Africa by 2012.
The theme of the meeting is, “Toward Africa: A continent of hope and opportunity”. By various indications, this era seems to be a turning point in Africa’s development struggle.
Japan is promising to double aid, China’s economic partnership with the continent has no strings attached and the West is engaging us more honestly and intimately than ever before.
Viewing the latest deal of Japan’s commitment to double our money in that context, a question may be asked as to whether the major hindrance to Africa’s advancement has been insufficient aid.
And this should not be interpreted as saying we have had all the money we needed to move as fast as the potential has for long suggested.
It is an acknowledgement that with the US $400 billion disbursed to the world’s poorest continent in the last 50 years, we would be looking a lot prettier if the economic policies had been based on thorough research and aid management been better.
Talking about aid mismanagement mainly by the executive arm of many an African government, for example giving parliamentarians in both donor and recipient countries detailed control powers over aid delivery and receipt would make a big difference.
Let the African leaders seriously consider exploring the above if they are sincere enough, even as they leave Japan and head for the Accra High Level Forum in August.