By Temitope Ponle, Abuja.
President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has commended the Japanese Government for its support to the Japan Africa Dream Scholarship (JADS) programme.
Adesina made the remarks in a video message during a virtual side-event at the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8), according to a statement from the bank on Thursday.
More than 200 attendees were logged on to the event, organised by the bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency
The event has “Value of Studying in Japan for Youth in Africa and Acceleration of the Partnership between Africa and Japan” as its theme.
The AfDB president commended the Japan Policy and Human Resources Development Grant, established by the bank and the government of Japan.
Adesina said that AfDB would launch the African Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Fund to drive knowledge-based economies.
He pledged to complement the initiative with a new one fund called the “African Education Science, Technology and Innovation Fund”.
“The fund will serve as a continental co-financing facility to help African countries build innovation-led and knowledge-based economies.
“I would like to request for your strong support for the African Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Fund to open academic learning opportunities for many of Africa’s youths.
“Initiatives like the Japan Africa Dream Scholarship Programme are just beginning. Together, we have a unique opportunity to reach millions of youths with education,” he added.
During the panel discussion, Dr Beth Dunford, Vice-President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, AfDB, said that Africa’s partnership with Japan offered an opportunity to develop Africa’s youth skills and their social and professional integration.
“In a world that is increasingly becoming a global village — thanks to technological revolution — educational institutions really have to prepare students adequately for full-time employment.
“The Japan Africa Dream Scholarship Programme is one example of how best collaboration with Japan is helping students gain access to quality educational experiences,” she said.
Dunford added that it was critical that programme’s graduates applied their acquired skills and knowledge for the betterment of their home communities.
The TICAD8 side-event also featured alumni of the JADS programme and the African Business Education initiative, which explained how their participation in the scheme helped build their careers.
Dr Edwin Mhede, from Tanzania, said that he pursued his master’s degree in Development Economics at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo and returned home in 2010 to work at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Mhede said that he went back to the same institute for his PhD. in Development Economics.
“After returning, I served as a deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Trade,” he said.
He added that he also took on work responsibilities with the Tanzania Revenue Authority.
“My contribution within two years saw the country earning a growth of revenue collection by 13.6 per cent,” Mhede said.
The JADS programme, a capacity building project, was initiated in 2017 by the AfDB and Japan to award two-year scholarships to high-achieving African students to pursue post-graduate studies at master’s level in priority development areas on the continent and in Japan.
The goal of the bank and the Japanese government is to enhance skills and human resources in Africa, in keeping with the bank’s High 5 strategic priorities.
The strategic priorities are: Feed Africa, Light Up and Power Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life of the People of Africa.
These priorities are also in line with key Japanese development assistance initiatives.
The core areas of study of the scholarship programme include: energy, agriculture, health, environmental sustainability and engineering.
The programme also seeks to promote inter-university collaboration and university-industry partnerships between Japan and Africa.
Upon completion of their studies, the scholars are expected to return to their home countries to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills in the public and private sectors, while contributing to national and continental socio-economic development.