On 17 January 2022, Kyoto University and the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies held the “First IAfP Joint Meeting for human resource development in Africa” online in conjunction with the 4th Meeting of the Committee for Japanese Universities’ International Exchange Program with Africa. IAfP stands for “Innovative Africa: Educational Networking Program for Human Resource Development in Africa’s SDGs”, which the two universities have jointly hosted since 2020 with support from the education and science ministry (MEXT).
Meeting participants numbered 89 and represented 25 companies, international organizations, and government and non-government agencies, as well as 13 universities.
Speakers included representatives from Saraya Co Ltd, Toyota Tsusho Co Ltd, and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), all of which are involved in business or development in Africa, and from three Japanese universities with experience of research and educational exchange with African institutions. The presenters detailed their organizations’ Africa-related activities and exchanged opinions on the topic of highly specialized human capital, marked by an ability to make meaningful academic or practical contributions.
These were followed by two more presentations, both delivered by representatives from Japanese companies. One of the speakers was from Japan and had studied in Africa, while the other was from Africa and had studied in Japan. Both presenters, one affiliated with a trading firm and the other with a pharmaceutical company, shared details of how their study-abroad experiences had benefitted their careers.
Earlier, Dr Takao Hirajima, Kyoto University’s executive vice-president for education, information infrastructure, and library services, had delivered opening remarks emphasizing the significance of the event taking place online. He explained that although the meeting had originally been conceived as an opportunity for the participants to get to know each other in person, it would not have been possible to bring together people from such rich and diverse backgrounds without going virtual.
JICA Vice President Ryuichi Kato, on his part, expressed hope that the meeting would one day lead to the establishment of a sustainable platform for information sharing among industry, government, and academia.