TICAD: Record 73 deals signed in bid to boost Africa-Japan trade
A total of 73 deals have been signed at the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) in an unprecedented move to boost trade between Africa and Japan.
This follows closely the Asian economic giant’s pledge to commit $30 billion (Sh3 trillion) in public and private support for infrastructure development, education and healthcare expansion in Africa.
The package will be spread over three years from this year and includes $10 billion (Sh1 trillion) for infrastructure projects, to be executed through cooperation with the African Development Bank. Another $20 billion (Sh2 trillion) will be injected by private investors, and includes some of the MoUs signed yesterday.
The $30 billion is in addition to $32 billion (Sh3.2 trillion) that Japan pledged to Africa over a five-year period at the last Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) meeting in 2013. Kenya will get Sh10 billion grant for economic and social development.
According to President Uhuru Kenyatta, the grant will be crucial in enhancing the country’s food security, build sustainable agriculture and strengthen health systems.
In addition, Kenya and Japan signed an agreement to jointly develop Mombasa special economic zones.
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he is committed to making Kenya an investment and cooperation model for Japan to the rest of Africa.
The two leaders also signed a document on promotion and protection of investment to spur Japanese investment in Kenya. Uhuru said the two leaders remain committed to concluding an agreement on avoidance of double taxation.
“I am confident that the presence of these CEOs who accompanied Prime Minister will be crucial in ensuring continued partnerships and translate into increased investment in Kenya and the region,” said the President.
He asked Japan to invest more in development of Lapsset corridor to help open Kenya to the rest of Africa. Abe said 67 per cent of the previous funds his country had pledged to Africa had already been put to use in various projects.
The MoU, signed yesterday, which will cover the sectors of infrastructure, education, health, agriculture, ICT and mining among others, is additional to measures taken by Japanese businesses as well as the governments of Japan and African countries and relevant organisations, to promote Japanese business activities in Africa.
The 73 MOUs involve 22 Japanese companies and universities with African countries.
Of the 73 MoUs signed at Ticad over the weekend, more than 20 of them involve Kenyan companies and State corporations across various sectors.
Speaking during the event at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, President Kenyatta reiterated the importance of entrepreneurship as a key driver of economic growth, socio-economic transformation, job creation and social inclusion.
“I am also equally excited at the prospect of witnessing various MoUs emerging from Ticad VI,” said the President.
He urged the business community not to lose any opportunity to explore partnerships that would contribute to the efforts aimed at transforming economic productivity by reaching at least 50 per cent gross domestic product as a share of the manufacturing sector.
“The Government of Kenya is ready and willing to support partnerships that will ensure our youth not only get quality jobs but our farmers can earn more from their sweat and at least 90 per cent of their agricultural exports are processed locally,” said the President.
The Head of State also lauded the move to launch Japan-Africa Business Forum, saying it was a timely platform aimed at transforming the continent’s economies.
“We urge you to use Japan’s valuable experience and technical know-how to build an African private sector that is not only more dynamic but also effectively integrated into the global market,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s private sector yesterday hailed the successful sixth edition of Ticad as a new chapter of the country’s bilateral relations with the Asian giant.
“Japan is a strong global player and in the past our relationship has been somewhat distant but Nairobi’s hosting of the first Ticad has brought with it significant benefits to the Kenyan economy,” said Kenya Private Sector Alliance chief executive Carole Kariuki.
“Japan has made significant advancements in technology and we are looking to leverage on this strength because Kenya is increasingly a technology-driven economy and Japan’s expertise in this area comes in handy,” she added.
Kenyan software company Seven Seas Technology is one of the local firms that walked out of Ticad with a multi-million dollar deal after signing a partnership with Japanese car maker Toyota.
Seven Seas Technology CEO Mike Macharia confirmed that Toyota had bought into Seven Seas although he declined to give a value of the deal, pending an official release of a joint statement between the two parties.
“Toyota has put in a multi-million-dollar equity investment although at this time I cannot say the exact figure.
“This new capital will enable us to move into the Japanese market and benefit from knowledge exchange since Japan has a proven track record in technology for healthcare and security,” he explained.