Rising Sun Over Africa: AfDB President Urges Increased Japanese Investment at the African Investment Forum

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By Cecilia Attah

In an impactful address at the ongoing African Investment Forum (AIF) in Marrakesh, Morocco, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, urged a heightened presence of Japanese investors to fully tap into Africa’s vast potential.

Speaking at a side event titled “Boosting Africa’s Growth with Japan: From Start-ups to Major Companies,” Adesina shared his endeavours to encourage major corporations in Tokyo to make substantial investments in Africa.

Stressing the necessity for increased venture capital and private equity funds, Adesina underscored Japan’s growing interest in Africa’s economic landscape.

He acknowledged the Japanese government’s strong support for the private sector in Africa, as evident in the Japan International Development Agency’s (JICA) commitment of $5.8 billion towards the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance for Africa (EPSA) in partnership with the AfDB.

“The Government of Japan strongly supports the growth of the private sector in Africa. This is clearly shown by the strong commitment of the Japan International Development Agency (JICA), which has provided 5.8 billion dollars towards the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance for Africa (EPSA) in partnership with the AfDB. Through strong public and private partnerships, we look forward to much faster growth of private investments by Japanese companies in Africa.”

Highlighting the collaborative history between Japan and African nations, Adesina recognized the crucial role played by the Association of Japanese Corporate Executives, Keizai-Doyukai, in mobilising investment interests from Japan to Africa. He emphasized the need for even stronger commitment and mentioned the inauguration of a $100 million impact fund for African investments by Mr. Ken Shibusawa, CEO of Shibusawa and Company Inc.

“Japanese businesses see Africa as a good investment destination, a 2020 survey of Japanese companies by the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) found that 48 per cent of Japanese businesses indicated interest in expanding their businesses in Africa, about 45 per cent would like to maintain the scale of their businesses in Africa. In addition, 46 per cent see the African consumer market as promising, while 43 per cent indicated that they see infrastructure, natural resources, and energy as promising business investment areas”.

Adesina pointed out the positive perceptions of the African consumer market and identified key sectors such as infrastructure, natural resources, and energy as promising areas for business investment. He cited successful Japanese investments in Africa, including Toyota Tsusho’s $7.5 billion revenue from automobile factories in South Africa in 2022 and Komatsu’s $1 billion revenue in 2020. He also highlighted enduring investments by Mitsubishi Corporation and Hitachi in the energy sector.

Examining the benefits of Japanese investment in Africa, Adesina emphasized diverse opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, fintech, internet economy, healthcare, tourism, real estate, and the automobile market. He highlighted the growing interest of young Japanese entrepreneurs in venture capital and private equity funds in Africa, noting a significant increase in Japanese companies operating in Africa from 520 in 2010 to 900 in 2020.

“Today, the successes of large Japanese companies are spurring a new generation of young Japanese who are also turning their eyes to venture capital and private equity funds in Africa, these are to support small and medium-sized enterprises. Japanese companies in Africa increased from 520 in 2010 to 900 in 2020”.

According to Adesina, Africa is currently the world’s best investment destination, and investing in Africa is profitable. He cited examples of successful startups in Ghana, such as Degas Ltd and Kepple Africa Ventures, supporting farmers and investing in seed-stage startups across 11 African countries.

“In Ghana, Degas Ltd, a start-up established in 2018, supports farmers with satellite data analytics and Kepple Africa Ventures, another start-up, has raised 43 million dollars and is investing along with African private equity funds in 100 seed-stage start-ups in 11 African countries. They hope to reach a fund size of 100 million dollars by 2023. The Uncovered Fund, founded only in 2019, also invested in 26 African start-ups”

African leaders who took part in the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), noted that improved trade, boosted by Japanese investment, can drive Africa’s industrialization, create jobs, and promote economic growth.

Japanese investment can also foster international partnerships and collaboration, contributing to development in Africa.

Additionally, Japan has played a role in boosting African productivity by providing vocational training for 157,000 Africans in areas like intellectual property rights, quality control, and environmental management.

In conclusion, Adesina asserted, “The sum of these testimonials is that Africa is bankable,” reinforcing the continent’s appeal to investors.

As Japanese investments catalyze positive change across the continent, Africa positions itself as an attractive destination for global partnerships and collaborations.

The rising sun in Africa symbolizes not only economic growth but also a dawn of new possibilities and opportunities for all involved.

The president of AFDB’s fervent plea for increased Japanese investment in Africa resonates as a powerful call for forging stronger ties between the two regions, with immense potential benefits for economic growth, job creation, and technological advancement on the horizon. As Africa continues to position itself as a global investment destination, collaborations like these are crucial in shaping a prosperous and sustainable future for the continent.


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