Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Japan increases economic footprint in SADC

Japan is steadily using her already considerable economic muscle to be counted among a club of big economies competing for Africa’s moment of economic growth.

In particular, Japan is developing more and more interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region owing to political stability in the region, Hiroyasu Kobayashi, ambassador of Japan to Botswana and Special Representative to SADC, told the Sunday Standard.

For instance, Botswana’s exports to Japan in 2012 stood, for the first time, at US $24 million while Botswana’s imports from Japan were worth US $34 million. Japanese companies have since invested in mining, ICT, Consulting, car service station and import services in Botswana and the country is seeking even more investment from Japan.

The third largest economy in the world after the United States and China, hopes to bolster her relationship with SADC and the rest of Africa at the upcoming fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) next month.

President Ian Khama is expected to join other Heads of State in Yokohama to reaffirm the 2008 Yokohama Declaration of their political commitment towards African development as TICAD marks two decades of existence.

It is expected that the TICAD meeting, beginning 1 to 3 June, will spell out Japan’s assistance measures to Africa to transform growth action based on three perspectives of robust and sustainable economy, inclusive and resilient society and peace and stability.

TICAD is co-hosted by the Government of Japan, the African Union Commission, the United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on Africa, the United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on Africa, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank.

Japan has expended US$460 million in direct investment in Africa in 2011 with direct investment balance for the same year standing at US$8 billion.

SADC exports to Japan in 2012 were US$6.5 billion while the regional body imports were US$ 4.6 billion.

“We consider that we need not only strategic partnership but close ties and communication between Japanese companies and Botswana,” said Kobayashi

“We have an example of a good relationship that exists between Japan Oil Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) which has established a natural resources centre in Botswana,” said Kobayashi.

JOGMEC is currently working in partnership with the Department of Geological Survey in Lobatse on a five-year Geological Remote Sensing Centre project which involves the use of Japanese satellites in mineral exploration.

Except for China, Kobayashi said Japan is ahead of most BRICS countries and holds that BRICS is just another competitor for the African market.

“We started earlier than most of the BRICS members specialising in high end technology,” said Kobayashi.

The Special Representative to SADC said there will be side events at Ministerial level at the TICAD V, which will include a presentation before Japanese investors on the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan – currently being implemented by the SADC Secretariat.

Since its formation, TICAD has evolved into a major global framework to facilitate the implementation of measures for promoting African Development under the dual principles of ownership and international partnership.

TICAD seeks to promote high-level policy dialogue between Africa leaders and their partners and mobilize support for African-owned development initiatives.

“At TICAD IV in 2008 Japan made a commitment to double bilateral aid to Africa by 2012. Delivery on that Promise is on track, despite unimaginably tough times after tsunami, and has helped support African leadership through incredible decade of progress,” lead singer of U2, Bono, said in his message of support ahead of TICAD V.

Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon himself said: “As leaders gather in the beautiful city of Yokohama for TICAD V, let us celebrate the many gains Africa has made while staying focused on the challenges that remain”.

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