The President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Mr Shinichi Kitaoka, has said that Ghana will continue to enjoy Japan's cooperation and support, although the former has assumed a lower middle-income status.
He explained that although donor funding automatically dwindled with time as soon as a country attained a middle-income status, Ghana's current status would not affect the relationship between it and Japan.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic ahead of the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), Mr Kitaoka said that was because the bond between the two countries was founded on socio-economic cooperation and not just aid and loans or any financial assistance, which he said was always affected once a country attained a middle-income status.
He also said due to the cooperation between the two countries, the declaration of the Ghana beyond aid policy would not affect Japan's support to Ghana.
He described the policy as a good one and said Japan was ready to support the delivery of the Ghana beyond aid through existing cooperation mechanisms.
“Our relationship is based on cooperation and we will continue to partner Ghana and all middle-income African countries until they become self-reliant, resilient and well developed and even beyond,” he said.
Mr Kitaoka said currently JICA was embarking on a number of projects in Ghana in the areas of health, education, human resource development, infrastructure development, among many others, as part of its effort to support Ghana to firm up its lower middle-income status.
“JICA will continue to enhance Japan’s value-added assistance to Ghana even if it becomes a middle-income country.
We are collaborating, for example, to deal with traffic congestion, waste management and other challenges posed by urbanisation,” he said.
He said Japan had gone through a painful transitional period in its development process until it got to the current state and, therefore, appreciated Africa’s situation and was ready to hold Africa’s hand and grow along with it.
The JICA President said everything Japan was introducing to Africa was based on Japanese models that had been tested and proved to be ideal, impactful and results-oriented and, therefore, beneficiary African countries did not have to reinvent the wheel.
“Because of our experiences, we have a lot to offer Africa through technology and development model transfers. We are doing this through cooperation and not just through aid. We are also facilitating more Japanese private sector investment into Africa.
Mr Kitaoka said Japan’s passion to grow with Africa informed the institution of the TICAD platform in 2003.
The conference was initiated by Japan, in cooperation with the United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (UN-OSSA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the African Union Commission.
It is a platform where key stakeholders and decision makers in Africa, particularly heads of state, meet to dialogue on the development of Africa and the individual countries.