Here Cometh Japan, the New Kid on the African Block!

The announcement of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Japan’s private sector will invest $20 billion over three years in infra- structure and human development on the African continent is very welcome news.

Shinzo Abe gave this assurance while addressing African leaders at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) VII in Yokohama, Japan, at the end of August 2019.

The objectives of 2019 TICAD VII was focused on accelerating private sector development and infrastructure development.

For the past thirty years, Japan has donated substantial amounts in the form of grants for Africa’s development. However, what makes the pledge at TICAD VII 2019 noteworthy is the fact that Japan seeks to transform the current aid-driven relationship with Africa to that of partnership.

Specifically, the pledge will provide for limitless support for investment, innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship.

This pledge is in fact an affirmation of TICAD VI 2018 in Kenya where Japanese premier Shinzo Abe hinted that Japan would review its commitment to Africa.

The Chinese are funding large scale and visible infrastructure projects, but it appears the Japanese are focusing on partnership to boosting technology innovation, industrialization, institutional building and climate change adaptation.

No doubt, Japan’s proposed $20 billion private sector investments in Africa pales in comparison with that of China’s $60 billion pledge at the 2018 China-Africa Cooperation Forum in Beijing. Maybe this may spur policy change by China in the coming years.

China’s investments in Africa exceeds that of the United States, France, India.

The Russians and even Brazil are lurking in the background with their own investment goals in Africa.

Amandla urges African leaders to take advantage of this golden opportunity with both hands.

We also think that African leaders should be strategic in their use of these investments for development.

African leaders must insist that China ends the practice of using Chinese unskilled workers to build, manage and maintain infrastructural projects at the expense of local workforce.

African leaders must insist on employing innovative provisions such as domestic content laws, technology transfer and managerial skills development.

These provisions are commonly utilized in infrastructure project financing mechanisms such as build- operate and transfer (BOT); build-own and operate (BOO); design-build-operate and transfer (DBOT); design-build-finance and operate (DBFO); public-private- partnerships (PPP), etc.

This would help build local capacity for sustained ongoing management and maintenance of the projects instead of continued reliance on expatriates.

Ultimately, African leaders must sit up and negotiate with clear eyes and also move away from al- lowing African natural resources to be “taken” to fuel the economies at the expense of Africa.

It’s about time that Africa transforms its natural resources into value-added products for export. Future partnership agreements must ensure a net gain for Africa.

Posted by on Sep 25 2019. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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