COMESA was among international organizations that participated in the just concluded Tokyo International Conference on African Development that took place in Nairobi, Kenya 26-29 August 2016.

Led by Ambassador Dr Kipyego Cheluget, the Assistant Secretary General in charge of Programmes, COMESA participated in the key plenary and panel sessions of the TICAD VI and also in the Japan-African Business Forum and exhibition.

The team also had side events that included the TICAD VI Forum for Inclusive Finance in Africa, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Volunteer Programme and had bilateral discussions with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

TICAD was launched in 1993 with the aim of strengthening multilateral collaboration towards Africa’s development, peace and security has evolved into a major global, open and multilateral forum for mobilizing and sustaining international support for Africa’s development under the principles of African "ownership" and international "partnership.

This was a unique opportunity to focus the discussion of African Heads of State and Government, international organizations, regional institutions and civil society organizations on the global and regional public-private sector partnerships required to advance structural economic and social transformation through economic diversification and industrialization.

This was the first time that TICAD was held outside Japan and attracted about 10,000 delegates and 30 Heads of State.

TICAD Forum for Inclusive Finance

The TICAD VI Forum for Inclusive Finance in Africa was organized by the Alliance Forum Foundation (AFF) and COMESA with sponsorship from the African Development Bank, Fund for African Private Sector Assistance.

The objective of the Forum was to discuss the policy recommendations for regulatory and supervisory framework developed through previous COMESA Financial Inclusion workshops and to demonstrate the shared initiative between its member countries and Japan.

It was also intended to promote Financial Inclusion in other African countries by sharing model regulatory and supervisory framework for COMESA region as well as reviewing the philosophy of the Public Interest Capitalism to create thick layer of middle class.

Hosted under the theme “Sharing COMESA Policy Recommendations for the Enhancement of Regulatory and Supervisory Framework” the Forum focused on the creation of financial system to pull low income population into the sustainable middle class.

Keynote speakers included the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya Dr Patrick Njoroge, who was the chief gust, the Chairman of the Board of the AFF, Mr George Hara who is also the Special Adviser to the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister of Japan and Dr Cheluget.

Dr Njoroge said financial inclusion holds the promise of harnessing collaboration between financial and technology service providers to achieve social ends such as inclusive economic growth, sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

“Innovative solutions are needed to provide a range of digital financial services, from simple money transfer platforms to payment solutions, savings, micro-insurance, financial planning and access to capital markets securities,” the Governor said.

Citing Kenya as an example, Dr. Njoroge said the country has leveraged on mobile phone technology and made remarkable strides in financial inclusion with the current number of mobile phone subscribers hitting 38.3 million. He said this has enabled access to formal financial services to grow from 26 percent in 2006 to over 75 percent currently.

He however, cautioned that while efforts need to be sustained to further increase inclusion and access, the quality of the available products and services was now in focus.

Dr Cheluget said one of the key challenges of inclusive finance in Africa is a conducive regulatory and supervisory framework

“Continuously improving the regulatory and supervisory framework will ensure effective oversight of activities of those involved in inclusive finance and enhance their soundness and their ability to develop innovative financial products that respond to the needs of the poor,” he said.

The Forum was attended by representatives from COMESA members’ States, and other Africa non-member, professionals from international organizations and inclusive finance sector.

The MoU with United Nations Volunteer Programme was signed by the Executive Coordinator, Mr Richard Dictus and Dr Cheluget for COMESA. The key highlight of the agreement is on youth development programmes. The brief ceremony was conducted at the COMESA Booth at the Japan - Africa Business Expo.