I arrived in Japan on August 26, 2016, as a participant of the African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative). ABE Initiative offers opportunities for young and eligible African men and women to study at Master’s courses in Japanese universities as international students and to experience internships at Japanese enterprises in order to develop effective skills and knowledge in various fields for contributing the development of industries in Africa. At the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), it is recognized that there is a need for human resource development in both private and public sectors of Africa in order to cultivate a strong human network between Japan and Africa.
The first two batches are already studying in various universities in Japan. We’re the 3rd batch and we’re comprised of almost 350 participants from 48 countries. Some countries have sent their participants to the program for the first time like Somalia (my country), Djibouti and Eritrea. I feel honored to represent my country and people.
After our arrival in Japan, Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) organized 8-days orientation session. JICE is the company responsible for overseeing and implementing the program. They’re also the focal point of assistance during our stay in Japan.
Each morning, two great coordinators (Toyama-san and Sone-san) would accompany us in bus ride to JICA Tokyo International Center where we take the orientation workshop.
In the first day, we’re welcomed by JICA/JICA representatives. Also, during that day, we received cards that will be more important during our stay in Japan: Bank Cards and Medical Health Cards.
Workshops followed the next days. One of the most interesting and engaging workshops I ever attended was the one delivered by Ms. Watanabe, Certified Clinical Psychologist and Counselor at JICA Tokyo International Center. The workshop was Cross-Cultural Understanding and the session included many group discussions and play-acting roles that made it memorable and interesting. I also took part in one act where we tried to show, even if there’re barriers between us and the Japanese people, we can still admit it and think of ways to resolve these barriers. I really loved that session.
Then lectures about Japanese business systems and Post-war Japan Innovations followed. There’s another interesting and very relevant topic for us from Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). It was Aspects and Features of African Market for Japanese Companies presented by Mr. Komatsuzaki, Director in charge of Africa, Overseas Research Department for JETRO.
Next we took a Japanese Language class. After only two weeks in Japan, now I can introduce myself in Japanese: Hajimemashite. Watashi wa Mohamed desu. Somali-a kara kimashta. Dozo yorushiku onegai shimasu.
That’s amazing, right? For me, that’s absolutely incredible.
Then, we had a company visit. Though we’re divided into many groups to visit different companies, I and my group had visited Mori Buildings Co., Ltd. As they say, it’s ‘a whole city in one building’. We’re amazed to see the kind of innovations the company is doing when it comes to urban development. We discussed how they could start business in Africa. Lastly, we saw Mori Museum Art and Mori Tower that allowed us to view Tokyo city from the top.
Lastly, we took part in a Networking Fair session with more than 30 Japanese companies. Judging from what we have seen in the fair, Japanese companies want to do a real business in Africa. And we’re their main potential bridge (lucky for us).
Now, after staying Tokyo for almost two weeks, I have moved to JICA Kyushu with other six members who we’ll study together at Ritsumeikan Asian Pacific University (APU) for the next two years.
Thank you to the government and people of Japan. We owe you a favor.