Updated: March 4, 2021
Africa is now a battlefield for trade with Europe in decline, China on the rise and America retreating from the world. And on Wednesday, Japan made it clear it would not lag behind China, the United States, the European Union and Russia.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan will offer enhanced trade insurance to boost private sector investment in Africa.
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He was speaking at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) attended by a few dozen African leaders and representatives of international organizations such as the World Bank.
“Let me make a promise,” he said, “the Japanese government will do its utmost so that our private-sector investment in Africa, which came to $20 billion over the past three years, will be expanded continuously”.
Reuters quoted a government briefing materials and a state-run firm as offering trade insurance said the enhanced insurance would fully cover loans to African governments, their affiliated institutions or private companies buying Japanese goods for infrastructure projects in Africa.
“For example, our cooperation with local financial institutions will create a new trade insurance that could cover 100% of your transactions,” Abe said in his speech.
He did not make a major funding announcement at the Tokyo meeting, Reuters said, adding that “at the last TICAD conference in the Kenyan capital Nairobi in 2016, Japan pledged $30 billion in public and private support for infrastructure development, education and healthcare in Africa over three years.
“Foreign investment in sub-Saharan Africa rose 13% last year to $32 billion, bucking a global downward trend and reversing two years of decline, according to a United Nations report published in June.
“Last September at a summit with African leaders in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion in financing for Africa and wrote off some debt for the continent’s poorer nations. Western critics say the Chinese funding is saddling the continent with unsustainable debt, but Beijing denies it is engaging in “debt trap” diplomacy,” Reuters added.