Panafrican News Agency

Kenya: Africa-Japan Summit opens in Nairobi

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - African leaders have joined Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the opening in Nairobi of a landmark Summit of Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) on Saturday to discuss challenges hindering growth of African states and approve an action plan.

The Japanese Premier arrived in Nairobi with a delegation of 1,000 Japanese business executives representing 75 top Japanese companies in Africa to scout for investment opportunities amid complaints by African leaders the Japanese side was reaping more from Africa and investing little.

This is the first time the Summit is taking place in Africa.

“We are now doing both development and investment. We are seeking opportunities for investment in Africa,” said Takashi Yao, the Regional Chief Operating Officer, Africa and General Manager of the Johannesburg Branch of Marubeni Corporation, a Japanese banking corporation.

African investors attending the Summit had earlier challenged Japan to increase its relations with Africa, stating the Japanese side was gaining more business opportunities from the sale of electronic goods, cars and heavy machinery, but re-investing much less than the cost of a “broker’s transaction fees”.

“We look forward to a robust exchange of ideas. A candid exchange,” said host President Uhuru Kenyatta, addressing a gathering of Japanese investors who attended a session convened by the World Bank to discuss the role of the private sector to discuss Africa’s economic transformation.

Erastus Mwencha, the African Union’s Deputy Chairperson, said the private sector in Africa contributed to 70% of the jobs creation, 70% of the investments and 70% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Mwencha said the Japanese perception of Africa as a risky investment destination should change.

“The products from Japan are very popular in Africa but the Japanese investors shy away from Africa,” Mwencha said.

The African leaders asked the Japanese side to increase its level of political, economic and social engagement with the African Union.

AU Chairman, President Idris Deby, called on the Japanese side to ensure proper accountability for the cooperation of the two countries.

President Deby, who is co-chairing the Summit with the Japanese Premier, said it was still not possible to measure the achievements of their economic cooperation.
-0- PANA AO/MA 27Aug2016