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Japan & Cameroon.

Since 1993 and every five years, Japan has organised the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote high-level political dialogue between African leaders and their partners in the area of development. TICAD is jointly organised with the UN, UNDP, and the World Bank.

The last TICAD was held in Yokohama in 2008 and took the theme of Towards a Vibrant Africa: Continent of Hope and Opportunity. This year's meeting is being held in the same city, and Cameroon's President Paul Biya is leading a high-level delegation to attend.

The Yokohama 2008 TICAD resolved that there were three priorities for the continent: Firstly, boosting economic growth; secondly, ensuring human security and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, peace and good governance; and thirdly, addressing environmental and climate-change issues.

At the centre of Japan's official development assistance strategy, what the Japanese government calls its "rolling plan" for Cameroon, has been the work of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which provides technical cooperation and other forms of aid promoting economic and social development.

JICA has been working in four broad areas in Cameroon, areas where it has deduced it can have the greatest impact on the country's development trajectory.

It has identified four key areas which, with the right partners, it will focus on enhancing.

These are in the field of improving capacity through human resource development, economic development, agriculture and rural development and environmental conservation. Under human resource development, a comprehensive package of projects has been implemented, including the grant-aided construction of primary schools. Grant aid is a form of financial aid that recipient countries are not required to repay. In the sphere of economic development, private sector development and basic infrastructure are the linchpins of Japan's support. Furthermore, major-cross-border roads and electricity distribution networks, to boost trade and manufacturing capacity, have been targeted, in line with the government's strategy to overhaul and improve its infrastructure.

Agriculture and rural development is the third key plank of JICA's Cameroon programme. The strategy is to foster economic development through a diversification of rural activities and the improvement of farming techniques. It will work with local farmers to share knowledge and expertise. Again, this is an area which the government of Cameroon has identified as one of high growth and, given the country's diverse and rich lands, one with great potential. Strongly allied to agriculture and rural development is environmental conservation. The implementation of a sustainable forestry resource management and conservation programme in the Congo Basin tropical rainforest has been identified as a priority project.

In order to protect the forest against the continuous expansion of agricultural lands, JICA, in collaboration with local partners, is exploring ways in which further intensification on existing farmland can be achieved sustainably, and ways in which higher productivity can contribute to the local economy. Japan and Cameroon have long-standing diplomatic and commercial ties. JICA has operated in Cameroon since 1997 and they have been involved in the financing of rural water supply projects, upgrading radio communication networks and constructing a fishing port.

It is a relationship based on trust and one which has yielded some notable achievements, especially in the field of education and health. Strengthening this collaboration and enhancing trade and business between the two countries will be high on the President's agenda and also that of the business deleption accompanying Cameroon's head of state to Japan.
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Publication:African Business
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jun 1, 2013
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