Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said that a summit of African government and business leaders with their Japanese counterparts had “the potential to transform the African continent.”
Kenyatta made the remarks at the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) in Nairobi.
Resource-poor Japan has long been interested in tapping Africa’s vast natural resources, even more so since dependence on oil and natural gas imports jumped after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster shut almost all of Japan’s nuclear reactors.
“We laud Japan and the co-organizers for their continued commitment to Africa’s development, on the basis of the twin principles of Africa’s ownership and international partnership,” Kenyatta said.
Kenyatta’s comments came after his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, told delegates Tokyo would commit $30 billion in public and private support for infrastructure development, education and healthcare expansion in the continent.
The $30 billion announced is in addition to $32 billion that Japan pledged to Africa over a five-year period at the last TICAD meeting in 2013. Abe said 67 percent of that had already been put to use in various projects.
Japan’s overall direct investment in Africa totalled $1.24 billion in 2015, down from about $1.5 billion a year earlier, according to the Japan External Trade Organization, which does not provide a breakdown of sectors.
Its presence in infrastructure projects ranges from roads, ports and airports to power plants.
In comparison, rival China made a single investment of $2 billion in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea in the month of April 2015 alone.
TICAD VI Summit has been opened for the first time in Africa at Kenya’s Kenyatta International Convention Center in Nairobi on Saturday.
About 35 African heads of state and government as well as their spouses attended the summit including members of the African Union Commission and 10,000 delegates from the economic community.
The Japanese delegation was led by the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who arrived in the country on Friday with chief executives of more than 80 major Japanese companies.
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta opened the summit expressing satisfaction with the platform which allows Africa to discuss the development of the continent with its “friends”.
“It is only by coming together, to embrace partnership, mutual respect and long-term thinking that we can make the world more secure for the dreams of our people,” the Kenyan president said.
He emphasized on the need to follow the path of Japan so as to trade more profitably with the world and push for “open and fair trade, deeper infrastructure integration and to develop the human resources of our people”.
President Kenyatta acknowledge the impact of terrorism on the economic growth of the continent highlighting Kenya’s fight against militant groups through collaboration with neighbouring countries.
“We must also ensure that the global governance system responds as robustly to African security crises as it does in other parts of the world. It is only by coming together, to embrace partnership, mutual respect and long-term thinking that we can make the world more secure for the dreams of our people,” he added.
On the part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Africa will benefit from a $30 billion investment package by 2018 including a $10 billion investment in infrastructural development.
“When combined with the investment from the private sector, I expect the total real amount to be $30 billion. This is an investment that has faith in Africa’s future,” he said.
On the sideline of the Summit, spouses of the heads of state and government held the First Ladies Seminar focusing on transforming maternal and child health in Africa through investment.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK