TOKYO - African countries are gearing up for the 8th Tokyo International Conference on Development (TICAD), commonly known as the Japan-Africa Forum, in Tunisia on August 27-28.

Nearly 50 African leaders are expected to attend, along with over 200 African civil society and NGO representatives, 108 heads of regional and international agencies, and 120 leaders of trade, industry, and technology innovation—making it one of the biggest hybrid diplomatic events in Africa since COVID.

TICAD is also Asia’s leading investor in African peace and security with an annual portfolio of over $350 million. Co-hosted with the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program, the World Bank, and the African Union Commission, TICAD is distinctive for its multilateral and multisectoral emphasis.

Efforts to advance the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa are explicitly linked to peacebuilding, constitutional development, justice system reform, and democratic governance.

TICAD responds to African priorities on the basis of ownership— jinminshoyū (人民所有)—a core principle of Japanese partnership. Rather than just a series of triennial summits, TICAD represents a process of ongoing engagement.

During its 30 years of existence, Japan has trained thousands of Africa’s engineers, entrepreneurs, and educators. Many Africans call TICAD a model mechanism for international cooperation and security cooperation.

What Is TICAD?

TICAD started in 1993, making it the oldest forum of its kind. Its multilateral co-partnerships, called Hōkatsu-tekina 包括的な in Japanese (“all encompassing”), distinguishes TICAD from the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which “hardly involves other multilateral actors,” says Hannah Ryder, a former Kenyan and British diplomat who advises African countries on partnership with Southeast Asian nations.

TICAD also includes civil society, NGOs, and professional bodies based on merit (Ataisuru, 値する, or “to be worth”) not through vetting by ruling parties as is the case with China’s FOCAC. Denis Matanda, who advises the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) on international strategy, says this enhances popular engagement and ownership.