YOKOHAMA - President Paul Kagame has called on African leaders to broaden and deepen the continent’s transformation agenda by adding value to what they produce and increasing competitiveness in the services they offer. The president made the remark today Wednesday in his keynote address to the 4th edition of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, TICAD, in Yokohama.
The head of state also pointed out that Africa is now the place for highest returns on investment with an illustration of the fact that the continent is the fastest growing market for mobile telephone technologies. This, he said, is only the beginning but promising journey to Africa’s development.
Addressing the conference on boosting economic growth, Kagame advised African leaders and specifically post-HIPC countries to invest in infrastructure, energy and human capital.
Meanwhile Japan’s prime minister Yasuo Fukuda while opening the conference under the theme, Towards a vibrant Africa, announced that by the year 2012, Japan will double aid and investment to Africa by the year 2012.
Japan’s Overseas Development Aid has until 2007 bee nUS$0.9 billion and hopes to make it US$ 1.8 billion by 2012.
Mr. Fukuda also pledged his country’s commitment to provide up to 4 billion US dollars in soft loans for construction of cross-border infrastructure that will include road networks and power grids in Africa.
In return, Japan hopes to secure diplomatic support for her bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security council and energy supplies from the continent.
Forty African heads of state and government are attending the conference in the port city of Yokohama making it the largest gathering which is almost double the attendance of the previous TICAD in 2003.
President Kagame meanwhile held talks with the Japanese premier on Tuesday where Fukuda praised the Rwandan government for her efforts to overcome the 1994 genocide.
The two leaders agreed to promote Japan’s investment, and step up cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure and education.
During the talks, the President and Mr Fukuda discussed the possibility for Japan to open an embassy in Rwanda in order to facilitate faster bilateral cooperation and the premier pledged to consider the idea.
President Kagame also held talks with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete on strengthening bilateral ties. The president also met U2 Rock star-turned-activist Bono on the sidelines of TICAD.
TICAD, held once every five years since being initiated by Japan in 1993 is co-organized by Japan, the United Nations, the U.N. Development Program and the World Bank. It is the first time the conference is convened outside the capital, Tokyo.