By Atul Ranjan
Japan has invited Indian companies to participate in a port development project in Kenya in a bid to promote business partnerships between Japan and India in the African continent.
Japan would welcome the participation of Indian companies in the Mombasa port project in Kenya, which is being jointly promoted by Japan and Kenya, Kenko Sone, minister of economics and development at the Japanese Embassy in India, said during a seminar organized in New Delhi last week to promote cooperation in Africa between Japan and India.
“There’s scope for Japan-India cooperation in Africa in many sectors including infrastructure. We expect greater synergies between Japan and India in Africa in projects such as the development of special economic zones at Mombasa port in Kenya,” Sone said while addressing the seminar titled “African market from India perspective,” hosted by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).
“We are planning to send a business delegation to Kenya next month, and Indian firms are more than welcome to join … we can facilitate their participation in the project,” Sone said while talking about the possible areas of cooperation between Japanese and Indian firms.
Japan has pledged to support capacity building of Mombasa port, regarded as a gateway to eastern and central African market, and also the development of the Mombasa Special Economic Zone in Kenya.
Welcoming the move to invite Indian firms to participate in the Mombasa project, Janaki Chaudhry, head of strategy and business development at Tata International Ltd., said Indian firms with ground-level implementation experience in Africa could partner with Japanese investors in large projects in the continent.
“I am happy to note Japan is inviting Indian companies to partner in the Mombasa project … this could be one project where we could try out this concept where Japanese investment and Indian implementation could work hand in hand in the African market.”
Sanjay Chadha, joint secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said Indian and Japanese firms should look to jointly explore opportunities in sectors such as infrastructure, health and agriculture in Africa.
“Indian and Japanese companies could jointly identify projects or pilot projects within Africa for bidding. Also, Japan can participate in India’s ongoing efforts in providing cheap generic drugs for common diseases prevalent in African countries,” Chadha said.
Leading Japanese and Indian companies with interests in the African market told NNA they are willing to jointly work in the African market but sought more clarity over the process of joint collaboration in the African market.
“I am hoping there will be some clarity on how exactly we can go ahead, who should we talk to or is there going to be a single point of contact to facilitate our engagement with Japanese firms?” said Rahul Sikka, vice president of India’s L&T Construction. “We are currently operating in Africa and would like to collaborate with Japanese firms for projects in the continent.”
Tatsuyuki Nonaka, director of the regional strategic department for India, South Asia, Middle East and Africa at Panasonic India Pvt. Ltd., also told NNA the company would like to partner with Indian companies in Africa as it seeks to expand footprint in the continent.
Speaking during an India-Africa partnership summit in New Delhi last week, Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda’s prime minister and leader of government business, said Africa seeks India’s participation in areas such as agriculture, agro-processing, information and communications technology, infrastructure, tourism, healthcare and education.
Dispelling any fears about the security of life and property in Africa, Rugunda said Africa is “stable and secure.” (NNA/Kyodo)