By Takeshi Kuroiwa / Japan News Staff WriterYOKOHAMA — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday pledged the government’s full support regarding Japanese companies’ investments in African countries.
Abe made the pledge during his remarks at the opening session of the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD, see below), which runs through Friday in Yokohama. About 40 leaders from African nations are participating this year.
In his speech, Abe praised the fact that in the past three years the Japanese private sector has reached $20 billion in investment in Africa.
“The Japanese government will do its utmost to support Japanese enterprises, betting on the future of Africa,” Abe said.
The government had in the past emphasized the need for supporting the development of the African continent. However, as African nations, with their rich mineral resources, have seen increases in their population and the expansion of their middle class, they have attracted foreign direct investment from many countries including China and those in Europe.
The Japanese government has also shifted its focus to encourage investment by Japanese companies that is seen as key to African countries’ own development.
In its effort to support business activities that are more sustainable in Africa, the government will strengthen its assistance to human resources development. Abe said that his government aims at helping the development of 3,000 personnel in the next six years.
“They will be the pilots Japanese companies can count on,” Abe said.
Among Japanese companies, however, many firms are still hesitant about making investments in Africa. The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) published a report regarding investment in Africa in September last year. The report emphasized the need for removing the obstacles toward promoting business in Africa, including measures against corruption that are still works in progress, inefficient legal systems and the stagnant improvement in security conditions.
To help alleviate these obstacles, Abe said that the government will launch a “New approach for peace and stability in Africa.” Under this approach, Japan will support African countries’ efforts to prevent, mediate and arbitrate conflicts in cooperation with the African Union and regional economic communities.
The government will also support human resources development for those who are in charge of policing and maintaining security. It will also help African countries with the designing of election and administration systems.
An international conference started by the Japanese government, with the involvement of the United Nations and World Bank, among others, to discuss development and support measures for African nations. It was held in Japan every five years from 1993 through 2013. In 2016, the sixth conference was in Nairobi, the first time TICAD was held in Africa. TICAD is now held every three years, alternating between Japan and Africa.Speech