Japanese investors say they want more trade with Africa


There is growing interest in Japan by the government, parliamentarians, mega companies and startups to invest more in Africa. As a delegation of the African Development Bank Group led by President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina visited Japan to showcase huge investment opportunities on the continent, Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan, is in charge of his country with the four-nation tour namely Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique.

In Japan, Dr. Adesina held a series of meetings with senior government officials, including the three Vice Presidents, Dr. Kevin Kariuki, Dr. Beth Dunford and Solomon Quenor, and Executive Director Takaaki Nomoto, Deputy Minister of Finance Shunichi Suzuki, Deputy Minister of Finance Masato. Kanda and Atsushi Mimura, director general at the Ministry of Finance.

He met top leadership of global mega brands including Mitsui & Co. Ltd., Sumitomo Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation and Toyota Tsusho as well as Japan’s premier business community, Keizai Doyukai, which brings together over 1000 business executives.

The outcome of this high-level engagement could see Japan’s net foreign direct investment in Africa return to pre-COVID-19 levels, when it rose to $10 billion in 2021, compared to $6 billion.

In this article we take a look at what companies are looking for and a Keynote Message by Dr. Adesina, President of the Bank,

Mitsui & Co. Ltd.

Mitsui & Co Ltd, one of Africa’s largest investors, announces plans to restart multi-billion dollar construction Mozambique LNG Project That was halted in 2021 following an insurgent attack on the facility in the country’s northern region of Cabo Delgado.

A joint deployment of the Mozambican army, troops from Rwanda and members of the South African Development Community (SADC) has brought the situation under control.

“The security situation has improved significantly. We want to resume construction work in the summer,” Koji Asanuma, general manager, announced. Mozambique Project Department,

He added that the preparatory work was on and they would soon approach the lenders to start the construction.

The African Development Bank has invested $400 million in the project.

Mitsui & Co Ltd has five 5 offices in Africa: Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique and South Africa.

Apart from Mozambique’s LNG project, the company has also invested in Mozambique’s Nacala Rail and Transport Project and Egypt’s Refining Company. It is involved in renewable energy projects in Morocco, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

Toyota Tsusho:

Toyota Tsusho Corporation is one of the foremost Japanese companies doing business in Africa. It is present in all 54 countries with businesses covering automobiles, pharmaceuticals, beverages and energy. It employs around 22,000 people across the continent.

Executive Vice President of Toyota Tsusho Corporation Toshimitsu Imai said the company is looking for more projects for wind power in North Africa, solar power in West Africa and geothermal in East Africa. Globally, it aims to generate 10 GW.

The company is keen to discuss with the Bank the possibility of investing in Green Hydrogen. It is studying in South Africa, Kenya and Egypt. Imai said, “We will come to the bank to discuss financing.”

In terms of local manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, Imai saw potential in South Africa, which has a huge automobile industry, or the DRC, which has some of the world’s largest mineral deposits needed for lithium-ion batteries. Are.

The Executive Vice President of Toyota Tshusho also expressed interest in the Africa Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, an Africa-led and Africa-focused initiative that will significantly increase the continent’s access to the technologies underpinning the manufacture of drugs, vaccines and other pharmaceutical products .

Mitsubishi Corporation

AfDB President's visit to Tokyo: Meeting with Mitsubishi Corporation

The company is present in 11 countries in Africa: Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa. Tanzania and Tunisia. Since entering the African market in 1954, Mitsubishi Corporation has spread its investment wings to mineral and metal resources, automotive and mobility, natural gas, the food industry and power solutions.

During a meeting with Adesina, it was clear that Mitsubishi Corporation is hungry for more. Its senior vice president Tetsuya Shinohara said the company has limited activities on the continent.

“Africa is a difficult region,” he said, “we are exploring areas to invest in in the future. We are seeking suggestions on how to follow.

Jun Fujino, deputy general manager of the global strategy and coordination department, said political instability, the unpredictability of the regulatory framework and the consumer market could take a very long time to develop, because of stereotypes about doing business in Africa.

Sumitomo Corporation

AfDB President's visit to Tokyo: Bilateral meeting with Sumitomo

Another large Japanese general trading house, Sumitomo Corporation is eager to expand its business on the continent with investments in mineral resources, energy, chemical and electronics, real estate, media and digital, transportation and construction systems.

“We want to grow together,” said Masayuki Hyodo, president and chief executive officer of Sumitomo Corporation.

And the response was consistent. “You are in the right place,” Dr. Adesina told Mr. Hyodo, “you are with the right partner. On infrastructure, we are trying to expand into green infrastructure in terms of roads, water and digital. Trying to raise $10 billion to invest in infrastructure.”

Sumitomo has offices in Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa.

roundtable discussions

AfDB President's visit to Tokyo: Roundtable meeting with the private sector

During the visit, the Bank’s delegation held roundtable discussions with approximately ten Japanese companies and venture capital funds operating in Africa. The discussion focused on new technologies related to energy and decarbonization such as next generation solar power, hydrogen/ammonia and storage batteries. They also discussed how Japanese technology and innovation can contribute to solving social issues in Africa. The roundtable featured a presentation by Dr. Kevin Kariuki, the Bank’s Vice President for Electricity, Energy, Climate Change and Green Development.

The second session included Japanese entrepreneurs and investors interested in the agriculture sector.

They were joined by venture capital firms to highlight startups playing a key role in growth in Africa. The session featured presentations from two Bank Vice Presidents – Dr. Beth Dunford, VP for Agriculture, Social and Human Development, and Solomon Quenor, VP, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.

The roundtable discussions concluded with a keynote address by Dr. Adesina. The roundtable discussion was organized by Keizai Doyukai and the United Nations Development Fund. Keizai Doyukai is a private, non-profit and non-partisan organization that brings together approximately 1,000 top executives from approximately 1,400 corporations.

Participating firms include:

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation: has invested in the construction of thermal and hydroelectric projects in 10 countries.

Hitachi Energy: Another global technology leader with significant investments in the production of renewable energy, including hydrogen. It has a presence in over 20 countries with main hubs in Cairo and Johannesburg.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries Limited: Manufacturer of motorcycles, aerospace and defense equipment, robots, gas turbines and other industrial products.

Tsubame BHB: is a startup company involved in the production of green ammonia fertilizer for small scale farmers in Africa.

AfDB President's visit to Tokyo: Tsubame BHB's visit

NEC Corporation: Began operating in Africa in 1963, providing the technology behind setting up a national ID and biometric authentication system in South Africa, laying telecommunications infrastructure such as a 6,200 km-submarine cable between Angola and Brazil.

Keppel Africa Ventures: Launched in Africa in 2018. It is the largest Japanese Venture Capital Fund based in Nigeria and Kenya. This led 15 Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Yamaha to make direct investments in African startups.

Degas Limited: is a startup company based in Japan and Ghana where it is providing agricultural inputs, knowledge and digitization support to 3,000 farmers.

open fund: Founded in 2019 in Tokyo, has invested exclusively in 26 African startup companies that provide financial services essential for daily life and economic activities, sales promotion for retail stores, distribution and supply, and logistics in urban transportation . It is located in Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

AfDB President's visit to Tokyo: Bilateral meeting with AAIC

Asia-Africa Investment and Consulting (AAIC): Investing in fast growing companies within the healthcare sector in Africa. Among other activities, it is investing in and managing agribusiness in Rwanda through Rwanda Nuts Company.

Sasakawa Africa Association The activities date back 36 years when it was founded by Japanese philanthropist Ryoichi Sasakawa, Nobel laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug and former US President Jimmy Carter.

AfDB President's visit to Tokyo: bilateral meeting Sasakawa Africa

The association focuses on the development of agriculture, and especially smallholder farmers, in 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. President Makoto Kitanaka talked about the union’s growing use of technology in the delivery of its services.

Dr. Adesina meets with the University of Tokyo

The University of Tokyo is investing in startups, with more than 400 already up their sleeves. Washa, one of the startups affiliated with the University of Tokyo, has developed an electric energy service business to reach people in rural Tanzania who do not have access to electricity. Beneficiaries rent LED lanterns which are offered on pay as you go system.

AfDB President's visit to Tokyo: Bilateral meeting with the President of the University of Tokyo

Dr. Teruo Fujii, President of the University of Tokyo, and Dr. Adesina discussed ways of cooperation between their two institutions, including the possibility of establishing a joint Japan Africa Entrepreneurship Program. It will bring together venture capital funds, establish joint ventures and establish an employee exchange program between the University of Tokyo and selected universities in Africa.

The two leaders also discussed the possibility of collaboration between the University’s School of Pharmacology and the Rwanda-based African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.

Bank delegation also held a meeting Japanese Bank of International Cooperation And Japanese International Cooperation Agency who signed a $350 million in funding Agreement with the Bank to support Africa’s private sector.

Prior to his departure, Dr. Adesina met with diplomatic representatives from over 30 countries in Africa. He shared with them the achievements made by the Bank in the last seven years and the urgent need to attract more Foreign Direct Investment in Africa.

AfDB President's visit to Tokyo: Welcome to African Development Bank, African Diplomatic Corps (ADC)

After a five-day roadshow to showcase Africa’s enormous investment opportunities, the message was clear: Africa is open to Japanese investors!

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