Japan pledged to invest $30 billion in Africa over the next three years to spur development with a focus on human resources to shore up startups as well as industries ranging from health care to agriculture.
The announcement, made online by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Aug. 27, came at the business forum of the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development that opened here that day.
“Japan and Africa are ‘partners who grow together and who also work together to tackle the various social challenges faced in Africa,” Kishida said of the investment package to be financed by the Japanese government and private sector.
Kishida was initially scheduled to attend the two-day conference in Tunis but had to bow out after he was confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus on Aug. 21.
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi attended the conference on his behalf. The conference was established in 1993 at the urging of Japan to work in tandem with the United Nations and the World Bank.
In his address, Kishida underscored Japan’s assistance to support startups set up by young people, as well as providing training to 300,000 Africans over three years in the fields of businesses, health care and medicine, education and agriculture.
Japan’s emphasis on the development of human resources, rather than the sum of the investment, reflects its goal of maintaining a distance from initiatives taken by China in Africa.
Beijing’s profile in the African continent has grown significantly in recent years due to a range of large-scale infrastructure projects, such as the construction of airports and roads, based on loans from China.
Kishida also touched on Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, which he denounced as an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo through military force with consequences for the entire world.
His remarks were apparently aimed at African nations that have not joined Western and other nations in denouncing Moscow or imposing sanctions as a mark of protest.
Kishida also heaped blame on Moscow for contributing to a severe food crisis that now plagues much of Africa, accusations denied by Russia as he announced a $300 million support program to strengthen food production for struggling African farmers together with the African Development Bank.
Japan’s presence in Africa is ebbing as its investment in the continent did not bounce back in recent years, despite years of healthy growth there, due in part to the global novel coronavirus pandemic.
Japan’s direct investment in Africa amounted to $5.7 billion in 2021, less than half of the peak figure in 2013.
In contrast, China, the United States and Europe are raising their profiles in Africa as they have economic ties with African nations.
Japanese officials are hoping that the TICAD conference in Africa, it’s second following the 2016 session, will help revive African nations’ ties with Tokyo.
This article was written by Susumu Imaizumi and Yosam.