With a grant funding of USD 27.5 million, the government of Japan has agreed to fund the construction of a kaizen training facility in Ethiopia via its human resource development scheme the two countries have signed four years ago.
Featuring the Japan-Africa development forum, best known as “Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development (TICAD)”, the human resource capacity development project seeks to construct a four-story building in Addis Ababa to serve as center of excellence. In a signing ceremony, held on Friday at the office of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC), Akira Uchida, charge d’ Affairs of Embassy of Japan in Ethiopia and Admassu Nebebe, state minister of MoFEC, have inked the financing agreement.
The USD 27.5 million grant agreement is deemed to construct “TICAD Human Resource Development Center”, which consists of a major training center (G+4 and basement and other facilities) in view to enhance the implementations of Kaizen, a Japan philosophy for continuous improvement of production and quality.
The TICAD Center, basically a Kaizen school, will reinforce the ability of the state run Ethiopian Kaizen Institute in disseminating management methodologies across the Ethiopia from grassroots. According to a statement by the interim diplomat, the center will eventually function as a center of excellence at the continental level when operational.
However, this project was first signed some years back and it should have been operational by now. The delay according to Muluken Kasahun, public relations and information head at the Ethiopian Kaizen Institute, is attributable to factors ranging from budget constraint to lack of access to land in Addis Ababa.
The government of Japan has approved the grant budget only recently contributing to the delay in the project. Disagreement over who should pay duty of importable construction items and the like have also contributed to the delay of the project, Muluken admits.
The project was announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to Ethiopia in 2014, a statement by the embassy of japan recalls. For the dissemination of Kaizen activities, both EKI and the Japan International Cooperation Agency for Development (JICA) have been in collaboration since 2011 to spearhead the introduction and implementation of Kaizen in Ethiopia.
Since then higher learning institutions such as Mekelle University has incorporated Kaizen in the curriculum. Public and private agencies have also adopted the Japanese management concept yet the country still remains with the basic Kaizen system which requires less sophistication to implement. Japanese experts are nowhere convinced that Ethiopia is ready for advanced level of Kaizen manufacturing firms and that, assembly lines could be implemented.
In 1993, Japan began hosting TICAD and gradually introduced some human resource development activities in Africa, the latest being Kaizen as one of the key pillars for African development since then.