JAPAN PLEDGES $30 BILLION AID TO AFRICA OVER THE NEXT 3 YEARS

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told African leaders on Saturday that his country will commit $30 billion in public and private support for infrastructure development, education and healthcare expansion in the continent.

Resource-poor Japan has long been interested in tapping Africa’s vast natural resources, even more so since dependence on oil and natural gas imports jumped after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster shut almost all of Japan’s nuclear reactors.

Abe, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi to attend the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), said the package would be spread over three years from this year and include $10 billion for infrastructure projects, to be executed through cooperation with the African Development Bank.

“When combined with investment from the private sector, I expect that the total will amount to $30 billion. This is an investment that has faith in Africa’s future, an investment for Japan and Africa to grow together,” he told a gathering of more than 30 heads of state and government from across Africa.

The $30 billion announced on Saturday is in addition to $32 billion that Japan pledged to Africa over a five-year period at the last TICAD meeting in 2013. Abe said 67 percent of that had already been put to use in various projects.

“Today’s new pledges will enhance and further expand upon those launched three years ago. The motive is quality and enhancement,” he said.

Japan’s overall direct investment in Africa totaled $1.24 billion in 2015, down from about $1.5 billion a year earlier, according to the Japan External Trade Organization, which does not provide a breakdown of sectors.

Its presence in infrastructure projects ranges from roads, ports and airports to power plants.

In comparison, rival China made a single investment of $2 billion in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea in the month of April 2015 alone.

A tranche of Japan’s new package will go towards various power projects to increase production capacity by 2,200 megawatts across the continent, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Money will also be spent on training 20,000 mathematics and science teachers throughout Africa, as well as 20,000 experts on how to handle infectious diseases.

Chadian President and current African Union Chairman Idriss Deby, attending the summit, urged Tokyo also to support efforts to tackle a lack of security, including that arising from terrorism.

“At the recent African Union Summit, we did say how it was important to mobilise the international community to counter all these scourges,” he said.

“I urge all our partners, and in particular Japan, to contribute to the African Fund Against Terrorism that was set up and established by the Kigali summit,” Deby said, in reference to an AU meeting held in Rwanda in July.

(Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo; Editing by Aaron Maasho and Dale Hudson)

Source: Reuters.

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NIGERIA RECEIVES $800 MILLION AID FROM JAPAN

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday expressed appreciation to the government of Japan for contributing 800 million dollars to the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases in Nigeria.

This is even as the President assured that Nigeria will diligently ensure full rehabilitation of victims of Boko Haram and find lasting solutions to combat threats of terrorism in the country.

The donation by the Japan government was part of the 1.3 billion dollars made available to the Nigerian Health Sector by the Global Fund.

Speaking at the opening of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), in Nairobi Kenya, President Buhari reaffirmed that Boko Haram terrorists have been degraded, even as the reintegration of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country receives immediate attention.

Acknowledging Japanese assistance through UNICEF in the rehabilitation of the victims of Boko Haram, the President commended development partners for their work geared towards improving the lives of some 2 million IDPs in the country.

“The bottom line is that these problems are our primary responsibility. We must tackle them and find lasting solutions for ourselves,’’ a statement signed by Presidential Media aide Garba Shehu quoted the President as saying .

President Buhari told the summit attended by Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, some 35 African leaders and chief executives of at least 80 major companies from Japan, that international cooperation with Nigeria was central in the decimation of Boko Haram terror group.

”I took over the mantle of leadership in Nigeria when the North-Eastern part of the country was being ravaged by Boko Haram.

”However, soon after assumption of office, our administration with the support of our immediate neighbours — Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin- and international partners including Japan, faced the challenge frontally. `

”As I speak, the terror group has been decimated and life is beginning to return to normal in the affected region. The challenge we currently face which is also being addressed, is that of the IDPs which number over two million to get them re-integrated with their families and their original homes,’’ he said.

On the gains of TICAD, the President noted that partnerships between Africa and Japan will help create and improve investment opportunities in industries, agriculture, information technology, science and technology among others for the good of the continent and investors from Japan.

”In view of the challenges Africa is facing, the imperative for a viable partnership like the Tokyo International Conference on African Development cannot be over emphasized.

”Today, many countries in Africa including the oil producing ones are wisely seeking to diversify their economies away from mono-cropping.

”In Nigeria, our Administration has already taken concrete steps to diversify the economy by making agriculture not just a development programme but a thriving business.

”Investing in the economies of this continent especially through Public-Private-Partnership can contribute to building capacity for our economies,” he said.

The 2-day summit with the theme ‘‘Advancing Africa’s Sustainable Development Agenda-TICAD Partnership for Prosperity”, is being held outside of Japan for the first time since its inception in 1993.

Among other things, TICAD aims to solve Africa’s development problems through quality technology in the health, industry, agriculture and environment sectors.

A draft declaration to be adopted at end of the summit will seek to combat the growing threats of terrorism, conflicts and violent radicalism through the promotion of education and job creation.

Source: Business Day.