United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says there is need for African economies, including Malawi, to be transformed to allow flourishing of manufacturing industries and make agriculture more productive.
UNDP administrator Helen Clark, speaking at the opening of the Sixth Tokyo International Conference for African Development (Ticad VI) at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (Kicc) in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday, said higher value service industries would also emerge through the transformation.
She said: “Economic diversification, industrialisation, enabling small and medium enterprises development and infrastructure improvements are vital, as are well managed extractive sectors.”
UNDP is the founding co-organiser of Ticad, which has been taking place for the past 23 years. This is the first time for the conference to be held in Africa.
Clark said hosting the conference in Africa recognises its strong underlying principle of African ownership.
She said: “Since its inception, Ticad has evolved to meet the changing development needs of the continent. Attendance has grown greatly from just 1 000 participants in 1993 to 6 500 this year. Ticad’s result-oriented approach is being emulated by other partners as a mode of engagement on development in Africa.”
According to UNDP, Africa has some of the world’s fastest growing economies, with real gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaging five percent per year since 2000. Many countries on the continent are also experiencing fast rising human development.
Clark said Ticad process has contributed to these trends, including supporting access to education, health services, water and sanitation, entrepreneurship for youth and smallholders; and border modernisation which facilitates trade.
Speaking on Sunday during the second plenary session with the private sector, Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe said the Ticad conference provides an opportunity for participants from Africa to have free exchange of views.
He said: “This is because it is now automatic that in order for Africa to continue its quality growth, the power of the private sector will be absolutely critical.
“And, if that is the case, then we considered it only natural that representatives of the public and private sectors of Japan and Africa come together at Ticad to discuss African development.”
Abe said business opportunities for Japanese companies in Africa are expanding, with a total of 22 such companies and universities taking advantage of Ticad VI to conclude 73 memoranda of understanding (MoUs).
At the Japan-Africa Business Conference on Sunday, a Ticad VI side event, Japan signed MoUs with 20 African countries. Malawi is not one of them, but neighbouring Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia have put pen to paper.