France and Japan in Africa: a Promising Partnership Lettre du Centre Asie, n°71, July 2017
If some African countries are on their way to achieving dynamic economic growth, many are also still struggling with a lack of economic and social infrastructure, latent governance issues and often complex and risky security environments. In this context, both Japan and European countries, especially France, are making efforts to increase not only their development assistance, but also private investments and security cooperation in Sub-Saharan Africa.
As two important players on the African continent, Japan and France are also looking to enhance their bilateral cooperation on the field. Based on discussions held during a conference at Ifri in on 10 July 2017, this note explores different avenues for Franco-Japanese cooperation following the views expressed by French and Japanese officials and experts regarding the countries’ respective roles on the African continent.
Ensuring sustainable development and economic growth in Africa
Development assistance – from coordination to cooperation
France and Japan have both been long-term, traditional aid donors in Africa. For France, Africa is a priority for largely historical reasons. Indeed, half of the activities overseen by the French Development Agency (AFD) today are located in Africa, and this regional focus is expected to be maintained in the future. But the French contribution is no longer focusing only on Western, French-speaking countries – Kenya, for instance, is the first recipient of French aid today. Paris’s approach to Africa has also been reformed this year in favor of a more systemic approach that doesn’t distinguish between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa for administrative purposes, for example, but that encourages tailored solutions according to local situations.
In contrast, the bulk of Japan’s development assistance is still devoted to the Asian region – only around 15% of Japanese aid goes to Africa. However, Tokyo can take advantage of the lessons and experiences learned when dealing with fragile, conflict-affected Asian states such as Cambodia to develop its activities in Africa. Indeed, inclusive growth and massive job creation have been achieved in Asian recipient countries. Moreover, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is a key actor that can claim an extensive network and significant funding to support African development.
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