South African President Jacob Zuma leaves for Nairobi Thursday to participate in the 6th Summit of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) taking place in Nairobi this weekend.

The TICAD process was initiated in 1993 as an advocacy platform for African development specifically aimed at mobilising humanitarian aid and Official Development Assistance (ODA). TICAD is a partnership between Africa and Japan.

Since 2008, the partnership has focused on re-inventing itself to become a more dynamic, results-oriented mechanism, reflecting the positive developments and progress being made across the African continent.

TICAD VI is significant, particularly as it is the first TICAD Summit to be hosted on the African continent.

The focus will be on advancing Africa’s development agenda by bringing together Heads of State and Government as well as leading industrialists, top business executives and heads of business associations from Africa and Japan to promote high-level policy dialogue between these leaders and to mobilise support for African-owned development initiatives such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

President Zuma and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are scheduled to hold bilateral talks prior to the TICAD VI Summit on Saturday and Sunday.

Relations between South Africa and Japan remain cordial and continue to strengthen, with regular exchanges of high-level visits, an increase in Japanese investments in South Africa and a wide range of technical areas of co-operation.

South Africa is currently Japan’s biggest trade partner in Africa while an estimated 140 Japanese firms, employing some 140,000 people, are operating in South Africa.

Ties between South Africa and Japan are multifaceted and include a broad range of areas of co-operation, which contribute to the transfer of technologies.

Japan has been a major Asian project sponsor in Africa over the past 10 years, with the amount of Japanese project finance commitments since 2005 amounting to 33.5 billion US dollars.

President Zuma will also attend an African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) forum meeting which will take place on the sidelines of the TICAD VI Summit. The APRM is a mutually agreed instrument voluntarily acceded to by the member states of the African Union (AU) as a self-monitoring mechanism.

The mechanism’s primary objective is to foster the adoption of policies, values, standards and practices of political and economic governance that lead to political stability, accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration, economic growth and sustainable development.

President Zuma will be accompanied by Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies; Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi; Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor; Public Service and Administration Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Nomaindiya Mfeketo.