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"KAIZEN" Workshop for ADC [Tokyo]

"KAIZEN" Workshop for ADC [Tokyo]

On an early autumn afternoon, the diplomats of the African Diplomatic Corps. (ADC) and observers from the African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative) and related organizations filled the venue at the UNU Building to learn and further pursue business opportunities through KAIZEN; one of the core elements that led Japan to excel and grow exponentially after the WWII. 30 diplomats including 8 Ambassadors from 25 African countries attended the event and showed their high interest on this topic.

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As “industrialization” is placed at the center of the global development agenda (Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development under SDGs #9), and the UN General Assembly reaffirmed the importance of industrialization in supporting Africa’s own efforts and adopted the period of 2016-2025 as the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III), we believe that Japan can contribute to the process by introducing KAIZEN as one of the key factors of industrialization to improve productivity, quality and cost without additional pre-investment.

The workshop began with opening remarks by Dr. Yuko Yasunaga, who welcomed the guests as the new Head of UNIDO ITPO Tokyo. Dr. Yasunaka expressed his wish that the workshop be a starting point not only to boost existing industries but also invite more direct investments from Japan.

“KAIZEN for Industrial Development” was the topic presented by Prof. Tetsushi Sonobe, Vice President, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS). He began his presentation by introducing the origin of KAIZEN; an approach to production management and quality control brought from the United States soon after WWII, which further bloomed in Japan. While KAIZEN gained renewed interest by the United States especially during the 80s when the automotive industry was growing, the concept grew to take shape into “Remanufacturing” and “Six Sigma” while KAIZEN further expanded across the Asian countries. “Today, the concept may be implemented with a second-mover advantage”, said Prof. Sonobe, as KAIZEN has been adopted and customized in various parts of the world throughout the past decades and when implementing in African countries, the concept that would be of best fit can be selected as well as be customized.

Ms. Momoko SUZUKI of the Private Sector Development Group, Industrial Development and Public Policy Dept., Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), took the floor as a second speaker with a presentation entitled “KAIZEN in Africa”, where she stressed that the population growth in Africa can bring opportunities and enhance its capacity through the implementation of KAIZEN. Ms. Suzuki introduced JICA’S KAIZEN support programmes in Africa, currently ongoing in seven countries with one fully completed in Egypt. More than 60 officials from Africa participate in KAIZEN related trainings annually. Specifically, Ms. Suzuki introduced a case from Ethiopia in which 37.2% increase in productivity and 55.2% reduction of waste was achieved. Ms. Suzuki also mentioned that KAIZEN “fosters teamwork, self-reliance, creativity and ingenuity which changes the mind-set of managers and works, in other words, “human centered”.

The last speaker of the workshop, Ms. Nao Teranishi, Deputy Director for International Cooperation, Japan Productivity Center (JPC), introduced the capacity building project established under the support of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), in which JPC provides technical assistance to the member countries of the Pan African Productivity Association (PAPA) to improve productivity and quality with Japanese management techniques including KAIZEN through on-the-job training for local companies. PAPA currently has 10 member countries in Africa. While introducing a case from Kenya, Ms. Teranishi emphasized the training of mid-high-level management also as a crucial element.

Following numerous questions from the audience, H.E. Mr. Estifanos Afeworki Haile, Ambassador of Eritrea, Dean of ADC made closing remarks by reminding the audience of business opportunities and the resources that Africa has to offer. Noting efficiency as a crucial element of development, Ambassador Estifanos expressed that he looks forward to working with the Japanese private sector. Ambassador added that with 54 countries being present in Africa with different history and national context, he wishes to see Japanese companies on the ground throughout the nations in Africa.

Event Overview:

Date/Time:   21 September 2017
Venue:     UNU Annex Hall
Title:     “KAIZEN” Workshop for ADC
Organizer:   UNIDO ITPO Tokyo
Language:   English