In a major statement of intent on Saturday at the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Nairobi, Kenya, Japan pledged to invest $30 billion in Africa in the coming three years.
Announcing the plan at the two-day conference that brought together more than 20 African heads of states, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to focus on key economic areas that will benefit the African continent.
“Whatever problems there are in Africa, they are simply there to be solved, period!” Prime Minister Abe said.
The Japanese dignitary added that some of the money will be channeled through the African Development Bank.
“Japan is a country that ardently hopes to resolve the issues facing Africa and it will not let up in its efforts,” the Prime Minister added.
Japan’s pledge to invest in Africa comes just months after China promised double the amount of African investments that Japan has pledged.
On December 5, 2015, the Chinese President Xi Jingping shocked economists and market analysts when he announced that China will be investing $60 billion in Africa.
The Chinese head of state also pledged $156 million in emergency food aid for African countries struggling with drought and a further $60 million for African military rapid response forces.
However, Japan has promised to channel most of its investments through organizations and civil society groups rather than government agencies.
The Japanese prime minister, who was accompanied by officials from 70 Japanese firms at the 6th TICAD, affirmed that Japan’s intention is to work with Africa for development, rather than work for Africa.
First Time in Africa
The 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) was held in Nairobi, Kenya, over the weekend. It was the first time the conference has been held in Africa since its inception in 1993.
According to its organizers, the decision to have the two-day event in Africa was reached during the TICAD V Summit in 2013, when it was agreed that the venue of subsequent conferences would be alternated between Japan and Africa.
TICAD is a summit on African development co-organized by the Government of Japan, the United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (UN-OSAA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), African Union Commission (AUC), and the World Bank.
The conference was launched in 1993 by the government of Japan with the intention of refocusing international attention on the importance and urgency of African development issues as well as to promote high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and development partners.
Some of the African presidents present at the 6th TICAD were Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia among others.