Ms. Akie Abe


So TICAD VI, multi-lateral conference between Japan and African countries just completed. As a participant of the official side event, Japan Fair expo organized by JETRO, we were generally excited to showcase our work as the only design company along with other 100 (mostly-established) Japanese companies. I also participated in another side event, the business conference that took place in the same venue. As a non-delegate person who were obviously out of the official diplomatic conversation and MoUs, I just want to share 3 points from my experience and observations through my eyes:

  1. Different definitions of Africa’s future
  2. Africa’s ownership versus Japan’s leadership
  3. Elitism, exclusivity, and entrepreneurship

First, it seemed that there was quite a huge gap between people who are already been involved in African businesses and those who are here for the first time regarding how they see the market here. This could just be obvious, but also showed that how there was a gap between the information you get inside and outside Africa. What was distinctive was that the former group of people has a commitment in African right in a specific field or industry as opposed to the latter talks about Africa’s broad opportunities… For us, we still see creative sectors are our opportunities and related industries that we want to research more are textile/garment industries that no one seemed to be talking about. We focus on creative sectors because that where 0 to 1 innovation happens, and this leads to the competitiveness of the economy.

Second, I felt that the challenge moving forward for foreign (Japanese) companies including ours to do business in the continent would be how we balance African ownership versus Japanese leadership. I kept hearing the word partnership here and there, but how does that look like for each business? For us, Africa’s perspective has to be the forefront. That is why it is important for me to position myself as a bridge between Africa and the rest of the world (not necessarily just Japan), and to leverage skills, ideas, and creativity of Africans. At the booth, I generally tried to have dialogues led by Africans and let Africans talk amongst each other.

Third, just as I feel at any kinds of large events with lots of VIPs, I felt the entire thing was about a reunion of elites, which was not necessarily a bad thing, but I sometimes felt something was missing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see entrepreneurs inside the red taped zones. Some of the most creative, entrepreneurial, and talented people were the ones I met at the Massai Market zone where vendors were sort of pushed away outside the exhibitor pavilion. I understand the security concerns, but I really think that they should have been inside the pavilion…

Putting all the negatives and challenges aside, we were glad that TICAD VI was actually held in the African continent, and we definitely feel really positive about setting up a Nairobi office soon!!!

TICAD6が閉幕しました。ジェトロ主催のJapan Fairの出展企業として、100社(多くは大企業)の会社とともに、唯一のデザイン会社として我々のコンセプト・プロダクトを紹介できたのは非常に有意義な経験でした。また、同時に開催されていたビジネス会議の一部にも参加することができました。もちろん本会議に参加していた代表団ではないのですが、その場にいた1参加者として私なりの経験や考察に基づいたことを3つ共有します。

  1. アフリカの未来に関する異なる定義
  2. アフリカのオーナーシップと日本のリーダーシップ
  3. エリート、特権、起業




少しネガティブな見解が多くなってしまいましたが、全体としては、そもそもTICAD VIがアフリカ開催されたことは非常に有意義だったと思います。我々としても、今回協力してくれたABEイニシアティブで留学中のMBA生などとも連携して、ナイロビオフィスを設置する準備を進めていきたいと強く感じました!