Ticad 6 key to Kenya’s industry plan

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto commission the 140 Mega Watt Olkaria IV Geothermal Power Plant in Naivasha, Nakuru County, on October 17, 2014. Geothermal energy should be a catalyst for industrialisation, and job creation. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

  • The Ticad summit has met regularly to promote high-level policy dialogue involving Japan, African leaders and development partners.

I first came to Kenya as a young diplomat way back in 1982. And I returned to serve as the ambassador on May 2016.

With the knowledge that comes from this depth of exposure to a country, I can confidently predict that Kenya will rise to the status of a newly industrialised country.

And when the history of this achievement is written, I believe that August 2016 will go down as one of the significant milestones in Kenya’s economic transformation.

That is when Nairobi had the honour of hosting the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development — Ticad VI.

It was the first time that a Ticad summit was being held in Africa. Since the inaugural one in 1993, Ticad conferences were always held in Japan.

And Ticad VI proved to be a historic event, which took relations between Japan and Africa to a whole new level.

The Ticad summit has met regularly to promote high-level policy dialogue involving Japan, African leaders and development partners.

This way, Ticad serves as an international platform to raise global awareness as well as ensure continued support for Africa’s development efforts.

The conferences are underpinned by the twin principles of international partnership and African ownership.

Ticad VI was an overwhelming success. It brought together 35 Heads of State from all over Africa.

And, of course, the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzo Abe, was in attendance.

There were more than 11,000 accredited participants, including technocrats from international institutions and the private sector.

And at the end of it came the Nairobi Declaration — a three-year plan to promote structural economic transformation, resilient healthcare systems and social stability through shared prosperity.

The declaration outlines areas of engagement such as promoting economic diversification and industrialisation; a renewed focus on agriculture; innovation and ICT-led economy; quality infrastructure; and skills development.

The three-year plan also includes collaboration on peacebuilding, cross-border security and preventing violent extremism.

Such, then, are the ambitious targets we have in mind when we speak of the Ticad VI Nairobi Declaration.

It is about 18 months since the declaration was signed.


And so, we thought that the time had come to have a workshop in Nairobi to review its progress, as well as to see how best to align the Ticad VI targets to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘Big Four’ development priorities.

To illustrate, let me give one example of how Japan-Kenya development works:

I explained in an opinion article a few years ago that, while Kenya is one of the world’s leading producers of geothermal power, Japan is proud that this success has come in collaboration with Japanese companies that supply most of the turbines.

One remarkable fact is that Olkaria 1 unit 1-3 started operating 36 years ago and is still generating power on the same set of Japanese turbines.

This is because when Japan supplied those turbines to Kenya, we gave the very best that we had.

That is the kind of win-win outcome that Japan always aims for in its dealings with African nations.

But inexpensive geothermal energy is not an end in itself.

It should be a catalyst for industrialisation, and job creation.

For what Kenya needs is to create jobs for its hundreds of thousands of youth who graduate from various levels of tertiary education every year.

The ongoing Special Economic Zone project and its associated Mombasa Port expansion project, both supported by Japan, are also key initiatives in job creation.

The SEZ concept offers the perfect combination of facilities to attract investment (both foreign and local) to encourage manufacturing industries, which will create many jobs for Kenyans.

My embassy has been facilitating visits by trade missions from all over the world who hope to take advantage of the opportunities that the SEZ project will provide.

The day will soon come when you will see a world-class SEZ in Mombasa, supported by a modern port, beautiful access roads and other quality infrastructure.

It will embody the best and the most advanced of Japanese technology — just as the Olkaria geothermal plant did in its time.

Mr Uesawa is Japan’s Ambassador to Kenya