The Third Japan-Africa Business Forum (JABF) was held online over 6 days on June 29 and 30 and July 1, 6, 7 and 8.
(Organizer : The External Representation Office for Asia of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Diplomatic Corps (ADC) in Tokyo / Co-organizer : JETRO, JICA, UNDP, and UNIDO).
Mr. Yasuo TAWARA, Director-General of the Global Strategy Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and Mr. Zephanie NIYONKURU, Deputy CEO, Rwanda Development Board, made opening remarks at the session, emphasizing the need to promote industrialization using digital technology under COVID-19 and the importance of further promoting technology transfer from Japan to accelerate the transformation of Africa’s industrial structure.
Mr. Yuko YASUNAGA, Head, UNIDO Tokyo Office participated in the panel discussion, which was moderated by Ms. Nobuko KOBAYASHI, Partner, EY Strategy and Consulting, and led to a lively discussion on the use of digital technologies.
Mr. Didier NKURIKIYIMFURA, Director of Technology and Innovation, Smart Africa, spoke about the growing awareness of the importance of digitalization across Africa, using the example of the Smart Africa Alliance, which already includes 32 African countries and is promoted by the African Union (AU). Mr. Adebayo ALONGE, CEO of RxAll, also expressed his desire to promote the digital revolution by leveraging Japan’s advanced technologies, using examples such as semiconductor manufacturers. Mr. Kentaro MAEKAWA, General Manager, Global Relations Division, NEC, explained the effectiveness of the company’s biometric national ID as a foundation for the digitalization of government and private sector services, based on examples from South Africa and India.
Mr. YASUNAGA explained the importance of combining digital and analogue (non-digital parts and tasks), taking into account the uniqueness of Africa where industrialization and digitalization must be promoted simultaneously. He emphasized that while digitalization makes it easier to expand business by scaling up, it is equally important to focus on real-world analogue. He stressed the need to provide more opportunities for business matching through the sustainable technology promotion platform “STePP” managed by ITPO Tokyo, and the necessity of fostering the knowledge of science and technology and the skills to realize ideas through education in order to strengthen Africa’s R&D capacity.
As for the challenges for Japanese companies doing business in Africa, Mr. Didier mentioned the need to understand the essential local needs and culture. Mr. Adebayo added that we should not stick to technologies and products that have worked outside of Africa, but rather combine digital and analogue technologies to make them relevant to the African market. Mr. Hidebumi KITAHARA, Vice President, Head, Global Business Strategy Div, Softbank, explained that there is a problem of “Digital divide” in Africa, where 60.7% of the population does not have access to the Internet and introduced the company’s efforts to make communication services from Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) (space and stratospheric communication networks) available for local needs.
|Date:||JABF Sessions: June 29, 30 and July 1, 6, 7, 8, 2021 (6 days)|
|Location:||Online (Hybrid format. Only limited speakers will gather physically at the venue.)|
|Asia External Representation Office (SNAR), African Development Bank in coordination with African Diplomatic Corps (ADC) in Tokyo|
|Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
|Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Keidanren, Keizai Doyukai, Association of African Economy and Development (AFRECO), African Society of Japan, Japan Business Council for Africa, African Business Promotion Support Network (AB-NET)|
||Japanese/English/French (Simultaneous interpretation)|