China is not the only Asian country searching for a chunk of Africa’s pie. Japan is steadily growing its influence on the continent and has proposed further investment “to bolster evolving political and security interests,” according to a senior fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs, Jonathan Berkshire Miller.
Last month, while Japans prime minister Shinzo Abe was addressing African leaders who travelled to the South of Tokyo for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), he noted Japan’s private sector will invest $20 billion over three years in Africa as well as offer limitless support for investment, innovation, enterprise, and entrepreneurship because the Asian nation is interested in infrastructure and human development on the African continent.
According to Abe, “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. We will do whatever it takes to assist the advancement of Japanese companies into Africa.”
Over the years, the Chinese government has been known to invest in Africa by building shiny gifts for African countries as a means of solidifying and strengthening China’s political and diplomatic relationships in Africa. This action has been criticised as an effort to colonise Africa. However, with Japan’s latest move to train 3,000 people over a period of six years under a human resource development program for Africa and its release of $1.5 million to fund community stabilization activities in Nigeria’s war-torn northeast, China’s just got a competitor.
Currently, China is Africa’s largest trade partner and its largest infrastructure funder. In 2018, the volume of Chinese trade in Africa was $204 billion, according to China’s ministry of commerce and Japan’s total import and export volume was $17 billion. While Japan might not be a worthy opponent to China, however, the country plans to make its mark and ensure its influence of the continent is felt.
Japan foresees a future where it joins hands with countries like France, India and the United States to promote inclusive development in Africa.