Japan has pledged to invest $20 billion in Africa over the next three years. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the promise in a meeting with African leaders during the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama, on Wednesday. CNN extrapolates that Japan wants to challenge China in Africa. My question to Japan: is this real cash or line of credit? Lol.
Japan’s private sector will invest $20 billion over three years in Africa, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised Wednesday.
Abe, who was addressing African leaders gathered at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama, said Japan is interested in infrastructure and human development on the continent.“I make this pledge to you: The government of Japan will put forth every possible effort so that the power of Japanese private investment, of $20 billion in three years, should in the years to come be surpassed anew from one day to the next,” he said in his opening speech at TICAD.“We will do whatever it takes to assist the advancement of Japanese companies into Africa,” he added.Japan also seeks to train 3,000 people over a period of six years under a human resource development program for Africa so there will be more people from the continent who can contribute to promoting Japan-Africa business relations
Good luck to Japan. It once had Africa to support but like Europe and U.S., it was giving line of credit. China came with cash and African leaders now see Beijing as the direct path to the god of money.
Sure, I have problems in some Chinese business models in Africa but I am happy that China is activating more options in the continent. If our leaders can see the big picture, even America’s President Trump will come calling for attention. Most African leaders do not really remember U.S. anymore because China has disintermediated most linkages to Washington DC.
A Challenge: list one project U.S. is funding in Nigeria; you may struggle. But if I update to China, you will start dropping names easily, from airport to train projects.
Japan, it is not over. Yes, China can call African leaders that it will invest $50 billion on better terms than whatever Japan is proposing, and Japan will then know that writing a cheque does not mean the recipient will cash.
Yet, Beyond China
Of course, China has a long way to catch up with decades of U.S. human + physical investments in Africa. America may not build railways and airports but it has worked on investing in our young people through scholarships and human capacity development projects. When all is tabled, U.S. continues to lead investments in Africa. Yes, all those fintech, logistics, and broad startup investments are coming mainly from U.S. Yes, they may not be visible – but that does not mean they are not catalytic for Africa’s future.
The growth of Chinese investment in Africa over the past two decades has been unprecedented and unparalleled. Despite what one might believe, China is not the leading foreign investor in Africa, nor is it the biggest donor. Both honors still belong to the US. What makes China’s presence different from that of the rest of the world, is that it’s physical, and thus, visible.
China has become the builder of a modern Africa, with its state banks providing loans and its state-owned companies constructing roads, bridges, railways, dams, airports, industrial parks and ports all over the continent. In 2018, China was the single largest financier of African infrastructure, funding one in five projects and constructing one in three.
For those in Africa, it’s hard not to notice a new bridge being built in the neighborhood, or a new airport terminal under construction. These giant structures sprawling from city centers to rural areas are