Saturday, August 06, 2016

Japan Strengthening Ties to Africa

$32 Billion Allocated for Development Projects 

Kingsley Ihobor of Africa Renewal reports:

To many Africans, Japan is a country acclaimed for economic and technological prowess. Johnson Obaluyi in Lagos, Nigeria, says Toyota, the ubiquitous automotive manufacturer, comes to mind whenever Japan is mentioned. For Kwesi Obeng, a Ghanaian living in Nairobi, Kenya, it is technology. Beageorge Cooper, a consultant for the World Bank in Monrovia, Liberia, says she thinks of Japan as “a former world economic power.” 
But it’s a different matter when Africans are asked about Japan-Africa relations. “I will have to read up on that,” says Ms. Cooper. “I think we are importing their Toyotas,” recollects Mr. Obaluyi. “They support research into tropical diseases in Africa,” says Mr. Obeng. 
Such scant knowledge of the full gamut of Japan-Africa relations hardly reflects the true picture on the ground, considering that it was as recently as 2013 that Japan’s prime minister Shinz┼Ź Abe announced a whopping $32 billion five-year support for Africa’s development projects. 
Before Mr. Abe’s announcement, Japan’s many interventions in Africa were mostly under the radar, attracting little fanfare. For example, not many know that Japan’s cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) in the continent rose from $758 million in 2000 to $10.5 billion in 2014, according to Forbes, a US publication. Indeed, Japan was Africa’s largest Asian economic partner until 2000, when China took the lead.

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