The Japan International Cooperation Agency, often abbreviated as JICA, is a governmental agency that coordinates official development assistance for the government of Japan. It is chartered with assisting economic and social growth in developing countries. JICA is responsible for establishing a wide range of initiatives that promote international cooperation, especially those between Japan and neighboring developing countries.
About the African Business Education Initiative for Youth
JICA sponsors a number of scholarships for aspiring African students who are interested in pursuing higher studies in Japan. The ABE Initiative, or African Business Education Initiative for Youth, is conducted by JICA to support young personnel who can be a “Navigator” for contributing to the development of industries in Africa. This program offers opportunities for young and eligible African men and women to study at Master’s programs in Japanese universities to experience interning at Japanese enterprises.
Background of the ABE Initiative
Africa is demonstrating a vast array of growth possibilities thanks to abundant natural resources and an influx of trade and investments into the continent. With one-third of the youth population in Africa unemployed, the International Labor Organization (ILO) argues that value-added industries and an increase in productivity will bring about job opportunities for the African youth. Therefore, it is necessary that gifted African youth are given a chance to pursue higher education, which will help them contribute to their nations’ development in the near future.
Considering the dynamic growth of Africa as a continent, and the interest of Japanese companies in investing in Japan, in 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan decided to launch the “African Business Education Initiative for Youth, which is also called the “ABE Initiative” in order to provide the African youth with the much-needed support. The initiative is a strategic five-year plan providing 1,000 youths in Africa with opportunities to study for a Master’s degree at Japanese universities and experience internships at Japanese companies. From this initiative, Prime Minister Abe aims to strengthen the public-private partnerships between Africa and Japan.
Requirements to Apply for the Scholarship
A. Target Applicants
Applicants from all 54 African countries are welcome to apply. The target participants of the program are the two following categories:
- From the Private Sector: Young individuals from the private sector who are or will be involved in economic activities in the local private sector maintaining and developing strong ties with Japanese companies and are expected to contribute to Africa’s development through business activities
- From the Government Sector: Government officials in areas of interest of Japanese companies, or areas using technology and/ or funding of Japanese companies.
Applicants for the category of “From the Private Sector” are required to have working experiences and to not be employed by Japanese companies at the timing of joining the program. Applicants for the category of “From the Government Sector” are required to have more than 6 months of working experience at their current organization to obtain permission for application and to secure reinstatement from their current organizations.
B. Organizational and University Requirements
In order to apply for a Japanese university through the JICA scholarship program, the applicants need to satisfy both requirements of the organization and the university. For more information on the organizational requirements, applicants must contact the JICA branch in their home country. For the requirements of the university, typically, applicants have to satisfy the following:
- Must be a graduate of a university or college, or is expecting to graduate before enrollment at a Japanese university.
- Must be recognized by the admission board of the university as having academic abilities equal to that of university or college graduates.
After you have finished your bachelor’s degree at a partner university with JICA in your home country, you will have a chance to be sponsored to continue to advance to your Master’s or PhD degree at a Japanese university afterward. There is a list of partner universities of JICA, which consist of top-tier universities in each respective country.
The scholarship covers the following expenses for participants of the program.
- Tuition at Japanese university master’s/ doctor’s degree programs (and research student) (actual cost)
- Allowances for living expenses (fixed amount) of 146,000 JPY for a research student
- Outfit allowance (general outfit and shopping) (fixed amount)
- Mobilization allowance (fixed amount)
- Moving allowance (lump-sum payment for a rental contract)
- Books (fixed amount)
- Interior research (fixed amount)
- A round-trip airfare (actual cost)
- Expenses for support programs during the study in Japan, including the costs of observation tours and internship (actual cost)
- Tuition for Japanese language and business manner training (fixed amount)
How to Apply for JICA Scholarship at Ph.D. Level
In order to apply for the JICA Scholarship, applicants will have to undergo specific steps.
First, they will need to acquire the agreement to supervise from a faculty member of a program that they are interested in. Usually, in order to find a prospective academic supervisor, the applicant is required to communicate directly with his/her prospective academic supervisor at the university via email and provide a self-introductory statement and a letter of intent for his/her period of study at the graduate school.
Once the applicant clears this round, they can proceed to the the document check. Applicants will receive the notification of the results of this round approximately 2 weeks after their submission.
The application requirements for the Doctoral program typically includes the following compulsory documents:
- Application form. Applicants are required to provide information on their personal and educational and/ or employment history.
- Photos of approximately 3.5 x 4.5 cm in size
- Research proposal. Applicants will need to explain in detail about their motivation to apply for the Doctoral program, the purpose of their research, and the methods of how they plan to conduct their research, as well as their research history.
- Abstract(s) of publication(s) including conferences in which the applicant is the first author. The abstract is accompanied by full reference information including name(s) of the author(s), title, and publication information.
- Summary of the thesis. Applicants can submit in a free form. For applicants who have not composed a formal thesis in their previous university, they need to submit the details of research he/she conducted at his/her home university.
- Academic transcripts of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Applicants need to provide the official document or certified copies.
- For those who are expecting to graduate, applicants are required to submit the originals or certified copies of graduation certificates for each graduate program.
- Recommendation letters from their supervisor in the most recently graduated (or expected to graduate) program, or others familiar with your academic or professional work. Depending on the school, some universities might require two to three recommendation letters.
- Documents to prove English proficiency. On average, the minimum English proficiency requirements are TOEFL iBT Test: 79; TOEFL PBT: 550; IELTS: 6.0; TOEIC L&R: 730. Applicants need to require the test organizers to directly send the proficiency certificate to the university based on the institution code of that university.
- Photocopy of passport
After the screening of the university admission committee, applicants will be notified of the results two or three weeks after they submit the application.
As Africa shows the world its potentials for growth as a developing continent, the Japanese government is also playing the role in nurturing the human capital of talented Africans and building the human network between Japan and Africa. With the launch of the ABE Initiative, the hope is that African students can harbor the dream of acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills, especially in technology, to help them contribute to the development of their home countries.
For more information on the JICA African Business Education Initiative for Youth, you can visit the JICA’s official website.