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Japan-Africa trade ties strengthened

African countries have been called upon to deepen their relationships with developed countries like Japan in the area of trade, investment and technological exchange to enable them leap in economic growth.

The Cabinet Secretary (CS), Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Betty Maina, said the continent has a lot of untapped potential in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure development, manufacturing, green energy, and health among others opportunities.  she noted that Japanese companies could invest in through government partnerships.

Ms. Maina said the partnership with Japanese investors to expand their presence on the African continent would greatly facilitate industrialization, trade and investment between Japan and Africa.

“We acknowledge the dedicated strong support accorded to Africa by Japan in promoting high level policy dialogue among African leaders, development partners and the international community,” she stated.

The CS who was speaking, Monday, during the Plenary Session of 2nd Japan-Africa Public-Private Economic Forum at a Nairobi hotel, said the forum was important as it provides an avenue to revisit issues covered in the Yokohama Action Plan of 2019.

She said the Plenary Session that was jointly organized and hosted by the two governments, Kenya and Japan, a partnership which started in 2016 with the hosting of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) 6 in Nairobi, will contribute to the ongoing preparations of the forthcoming TICAD 8 to be held in Tunisia this year.

CS said the Plenary Session which has brought together both the African and Japan public sector, the captains of industry and the private sector champions to solidify their cooperation and collaboration is one of the implementation mechanisms that were developed to integrate follow up of the commitments made from the preceding sessions of TICAD.

According to Ms. Maina, the year 2022 marks the 29th year of notable achievements of the African-led development and international cooperation with Japan, through TICAD which began in 1993.  She added that TICAD Summits have served as a multinational cooperation framework premised on the dual principles of Africa ownership and International partnerships.

The CS observed that trade relations between Africa and Asia have grown significantly in recent years, noting that in 2020, Africa’s exports to Japan were around USD8.6 billion, whereas African imports from Japan were approximately USD7.9 billion

She said, “Africa has been one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, rich in natural resources and a fast-growing population estimated to reach up to 2 billion people in 2050”.

Ms. Maina singled out enhanced role of regional integration through the regional economic communities to expand industrialization, trade and investments as some of the commendable strides that have been undertaken to ensure the positive development of Africa.

Discussions held in the previous forum in December were under the five broad themes of Innovation, Integration, Industrialization, green and digital infrastructure as well as accelerating finance solutions.

The CS further noted that the conclusion and signing of 15 Memorandum of Understandings between the public and private sectors of African nations and Japan indicate deepening partnerships between Japan and the continent.

She said Africa is determined to engage in global value chains and enhance intra-African trade, and diversifying its products range for both continental and other world markets in a cooperative and collaborative manner with like-minded and well-meaning partners.

“Kenya, its EAC neighbours, and several countries in Africa have significantly improved the uptake of digital skills and enabled a widespread adaptation to the prevailing technological trends in governance and trade facilitation, “she added.

Ms. Maina said the Kenya Government has ensured that the green transition is prioritized, which has made the country become a global leader green economy.

“Kenya’s energy mix is 73 per cent renewable, with over 90 per cent of the energy consumed is from green sources of energy, with a target of 100  per cent clean energy by 2030 and we aim to achieve 100 per cent access to clean cooking by 2028,” Ms. Maina stated.

The Principal Secretary, State Department for Industrialization, Amb. Kirimi Kaberia, said Africa acknowledges and greatly appreciates the important and enviable role played by Japan in advancing industrialization in Africa and globally.

By Bernadette Khaduli

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