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Abe, Japan Inc. eager to support African education, jobs

  • August 29, 2016
  • , Nikkei Asian Review , 4:40 a.m.
  • English Press

By Takashi Tsuji and Yasuo Takeuchi, Nikkei staff writers


NAIROBI, Kenya — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japanese business leaders made an enthusiastic push to support education and employment as the keys to peace and stability at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.


The Nairobi Declaration, announced Sunday at the end of the two-day conference here, outlines new challenges for Africa such as the falling commodity prices that have weighed on many countries as well as the outbreak of Ebola virus disease. The statement calls for the need to diversify and industrialize the continent’s economy, develop human resources and strengthen health-care systems.


Action plans


“Japan’s advanced technological prowess will help resolve Africa’s challenges,” Abe told the plenary session. He stressed Japanese companies’ strength in product quality and their ability to nurture highly skilled personnel. The prime minister resolved to work toward investment and tax treaties with African nations to open the path for more Japanese businesses, while asking African leaders to develop a safe business environment and ease regulation to eliminate excessive market barriers.


Action plans specific to countries and institutions call for accelerated efforts to build more ports, airports, railways and major roads, as well as digital communication networks and energy infrastructure like geothermal and hydropower facilities. Special economic zones, also included in the plans, would help Japanese companies secure more orders.


The plans urge African countries to fight terrorism, a risk for Japanese companies, by using information communication technology to tighten border controls and clamp down on illegal cross-border arms trading. The countries should share intelligence on terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the declaration says. Japan and African nations also affirmed efforts to call for more dialogue to reform the United Nations Security Council.


Maritime rule of law is the foundation of regional peace, stability and prosperity, Abe told reporters Sunday, likely with China in mind. “The sea must be free and open for Japan and Africa to strengthen economic relations and pursue prosperity through trade,” he said.


Projects underway


During the Japan-Africa Business forum held in conjunction with TICAD through Sunday, 22 Japanese companies and groups affirmed 73 memorandums of understanding.


Toyota Tsusho and Nippon Yusen will form a Kenyan joint venture with French conglomerate Bollore to start automobile logistics in Tanzania and other parts of East Africa. Toyota Tsusho also is studying an expansion of its geothermal power generation business in Kenya, with plans to extend it to Ethiopia as well.


NEC will work with the national police of Ivory Coast to introduce a biometric security system to combat terrorism and other safety threats.


Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. signed memorandums with the African Development Bank, Angola’s development bank and others to develop human resources and refer customers to spur specific lending projects.


Mitsubishi Corp. will work with Total of France and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance to create and manage a 40-megawatt solar power plant in central Kenya. Fellow trading house Marubeni will operate hospitals in countries such as Uganda and Cameroon and help develop health-care infrastructure in rural areas.

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