Overview of Japanese Aid in Africa
Evans M. Ouko and Ayako Ishiwata
Keywords:  Japan; Africa (Sub-Saharan); Human resources; Technology transfer.
Correct citation: Ouko, E.M. and Ishiwata, A. (1995), "Overview of Japanese Aid in Africa." Biotechnology and Development Monitor, No. 22, p. 17.

Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) in Africa is geared towards core funding human resources building, institutional development and the transfer of technology. This article gives an overview of Japanese core funding in Africa, with an emphasis on Kenya.

It is generally recognized that Japan's level of co­operation with African countries in the field of biotechnology has been very low thus far. Most of the activities in Africa are at base levels in terms of the intensity of actual biotechnology input and size of the operations. Recently Japan announced an increase in its commitment to Africa. Especially Japan's willingness to focus more on the area of genetic conservation and improvement since signing the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992, could be exploited by African governments to increase their biotechnological capacities.

African projects
Japanese ODA has implemented projects in several African countries. Since 1986, afforestation co­operation projects have been financed in Senegal, Niger and Tanzania. These projects are aimed primarily at preventing desertification through the raising of seedlings for trees that grow in dry climates, such as eucalyptus and acacia, and the promotion of agroforestry. The co­operation involves the dispatch of co­operation teams (consisting of about 5­10 experts) and individuals from the Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV).
At the University of Zambia, 65 experts have been posted, 22 counterparts trained and equipment supplied for a veterinary education project. There has also been an agricultural verification study on rice development. Additionally, within an infectious­diseases project, 26 experts were dispatched, 22 counterparts trained and equipment supplied. In Ghana, at the University of Legon, research on malaria has been conducted at the Japanese funded Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.
As a result of a relatively close relationship between Japan and Kenya, Kenya's high development potential in areas such as industrial development, and accumulated experience in economic co­operation, Kenya is the vanguard of Japanese development aid in Africa. All the projects selected below have been funded through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). As a governmental agency JICA is chiefly responsible for the technical co­operation aspect of Japan's ODA (see also the article by van Roozendaal).

The collaboration between JICA and Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) started with the inception of KEMRI in 1979. The result of the co­operation has been the following:

Jomo Kenyatta University
Since 1979, JICA has also supported the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Kenya). At first the physical facilities were provided, while later on two departments were created: the Horticulture Department and the Department of Food Science and Postharvest Technology. The former is focusing on, amongst other things, training and research on plant physiology, floriculture, and plant biotechnology. It receives support from JICA in experiments with the tissue culture of the flower Ornithogalum. The aim is to produce virus­free, high­quality plant material, which might benefit the Kenyan cut flower export. A biotechnology centre at the Horticultural Department has produced a macropropagated banana strain which is unattractive to pests and consequently excludes the use of pesticides. Additionally, it produces more bunches and has a reduced maturing period than is normally the case. The Department of Food Science and Postharvest Technology is providing education and is conducting research on the conversion of inedible food parts, such as banana stems, to useful sugar, using enzyme­producing bacteria.

MIAD Project
The Mwea Irrigation Agricultural Development (MIAD) Project has been undertaken by JICA and the National Irrigation Board of Kenya. This five­year project ends in January 1996. In the past years it has aimed at developing appropriate technologies for irrigated rice cultivation and extending the techniques mainly to staff of the National Irrigation Board and key farmers through a training programme. The Rice Cultivation Section conducts experiments and verification trials on the pilot farm with the objective of selecting appropriate varieties for double and single cropping systems and taste. In the future, research may be aimed at cross­breeding, but developing a viable rice variety will take another five years. In this project, Japan has dispatched experts (including an agronomist, rice breeder and soil scientist), provided machinery and equipment and trained Kenyan counterpart personnel in Japan.

The Kenya/Japan Social Forestry Training Project, located at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), received Japanese support for the construction of two laboratories and equipment. The Project aims at the development of simple biotechnologies like tissue culture for conserving Kenyan forests. This project also includes seed treatment and pest and disease control.
Evans M. Ouko/Ayako Ishiwata (ACTS)

APIC (1993), A guide to Japan's Aid. Tokyo: Association for Promotion of International Cooperation.

KEFRI/JICA (1992), Miti ni Mali: More trees better life. Kenya/Japan Social Forestry Training Project (Phase II), KEFRI and JICA.

KEMRI/JICA (1992), Research and Control of Infectious Diseases Project: 1990­1995. KEMRI and JICA.

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