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Japan to invest in North Africa over next five years

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 3rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Japan says it will provide $1 billion in aid over the next five years to northern Africa. The funds will be used for economic development and humanitarian efforts, which will include help with security and counter-terrorism measures.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the assistance this past weekend, on the second day of the three-day Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD. The conference was held in Yokohama, south of the capital city. The money is part of the $32 billion in government and private-sector aid Abe announced previously.

Abe says the investment of public and private funds over the next five years is aimed at helping growth on the continent, as well as encourages Japanese companies to invest there.

The prime minister began targeting Africa for investment opportunities shortly after taking office last year.

Around 50 African leaders are in Japan for the conference, covering economic development and concerns over peace and security in the region. Held every five years, the conference first began in 1993.

Japan is keen to court Africa, which is rich in resources and growing as a market, after having fallen behind Asian rival China in trade with and infrastructure projects in Africa.

Nigerian Vice President Namadi Sambo noted that if Africa was to sustain her recent economic development, the expansion of trade within the continent and with the rest of the world, including Japan, was critical.

"While the value of total two-way trade between Japan and ASEAN countries was over $205 billion in 2012, trade between Japan and Africa was a paltry $29 billion in the same period.

"To enhance the level of trade between Africa and Japan, therefore, there is an urgent need to promote private sector interface between Japan and Africa under TICAD," the statement quoted the Vice President as saying.

Sambo acknowledged the giant strides achieved under TICAD, since its inception in 1993, particularly in Nigeria in the areas of rural water supply, basic education, healthcare delivery, rural electrification and women empowerment.

"For us in Africa, this is a momentous period.

"Indeed, we salute the strides that we have made together under the auspices of the TICAD process and express deep appreciation to Japan for its support and steadfastness. We note with gratitude, the zeal of Japan to Africa's cause and acknowledge that Japan has faithfully implemented the assistance it pledged to Africa under TICAD IV," the vice president said.



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