(Sharon Kantengwa) - The Japanese government is set to scale up private investment in Africa as it readies to shift its intervention
approach in Africa from the Official Development Assistance (ODA) to private investment.
According to Takashi Shibata, the deputy director, African Division, African Affairs Department, at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the new approach is aimed at making best use of competitive edge, infrastructure investment and human resource development through the Asian country’s African Business Education Initiative for Youth, better known as ABE Initiative.
The measures seek to develop infrastructure, build resilient health systems and lay the foundations of peace and stability, amounting to $30 billion under public-private partnership.
“These measures are in line with the priority areas in the Nairobi Declaration of the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICADVI), which includes human resource development covering 10 million people. The private sector activity will be promoted through such means and through productivity improvement,” Shibata said in a recent interview in Tokyo.
These goals, he said, will be steadily achieved by utilising the excellent science, technologies and innovation of Japan.
The deputy Director-General of African affairs in the department of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign affairs, Seiji Okada, said there have been talks between TICAD officials and the private sector in Japan, to open business in Africa and that the governments of the member countries are working with the Japanese officials to bring about a good business climate.
“TICAD is expected to accelerate Japanese investment in the continent’s increasingly attractive consumer markets,” he said.
“Africa is a growing continent in terms of population which is good for business and although ODA can be a good tool for economic growth, private investment is the real engine to Africa’s development.”
A ministerial level meeting involving participation from African countries and senior officials from international organisations to stock take of the achievements and challenges encountered will be held this month in Maputo, Mozambique as a follow up on the variables of the meeting held last year in Nairobi, Kenya.
Okada noted that Rwanda’s stability represents hope for eco-tourism while the East African connectivity will work as an economic bloc for inland countries, with the one stop border post being key in consolidating trade in the region.
“The Kaizen Initiative will help improve productivity by 30 percent and in the long run strengthen East African industrial personnel and Japanese companies to bridge the gap between Africa and Japan,” he added.
The Secretary General, Japan–AU Parliamentary Friendship Association, Yasutoshi Nishimura, said Africa’s development presents an opportunity for Japan to have more investment opportunities.
“ODA’s main source of financing was from outside Africa to Africa but now the role of the private sector is expanding. Our government budget is limited and therefore we want to utilise our limited resources to facilitate the inflow of private sector funds by encouraging many companies to invest in Africa and utilise ODA for that purpose,” he said.
He said the overall goal is to address the root cause of social instability, natural disasters, climate change as well as man-made disasters like extremism, and terrorism, together with the international community.
The investment agreement with African countries and the stability of the regulation, therefore, need to be completed, he said.