- China, Japan in battle royale for Africa’s soul Buhari to meet Japanese prime minister, UN scribe
Omololu Ogunmade in Yokohama, Japan
Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, wednesday in Yokohama, assured President Muhammadu Buhari and other African leaders that Japan would do its best to support enterprises aimed at transforming the future of Africa through remarkable technological development.
Abe made this pledge while declaring open the seventh Tokyo International Conference for Africa Development (TICAD7) in Yokohama city. TICAD is a triennial event meant to serve as the platform for Japanese – African economic cooperation.
According to Abe, Japan’s engagement with some African countries, including Nigeria, will focus among others, on infrastructure development, including road and rail construction as well as outstanding investment in the health sectors of African countries.
Abe also disclosed that against the background of Japan’s interest in the health and well-being of Africans, the country would launch an African health initiative come 2020, with the active cooperation of several African countries.
He also disclosed, against the background of Japan’s interest in African development, that his country would dispatch its professionals in various fields to the continent of Africa “to spend much time with you…and make meaningful contributions to your economic initiative.”
The prime minister also said Japan had conceived a new deal with Africa, which he said would entail the renowned Asian country working with the African Union (AU) for conflict prevention as well as the promotion of a stable and secured legislative system.
According to him, the pursuit of conflict prevention in Africa will involve the engagement of 677 Japanese police officers and some judges, whose pre-occupation, he said, would be crime prevention.
He added that several African police officers had in recent times come to study and enhance their skills in Japan.
Abe concluded his speech with a declaration that the emergence of TICAD for the future and power of Africa was not a mistake, vowing that Japan would not waiver in this commitment as “TICAD will continue to guide the path of both Africa and Japan.”
TICAD is one of the initiatives of the world’s leading economies to expand the frontiers of their economic interests in Africa with a view to benefitting maximally from the recent growth of African economies.
Thus in the battle for Africa’s fertile economies, China also biennially hosts Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), to underscore the level of scrambling for African economies by the two biggest Asian economies in recent times.
Thus, there has been a stiff competition for the soul of Africa by China and Japan in recent times. For instance, the August 28 edition of Japan Times reported that ahead of the take-off of the conference yesterday, “Tokyo is worried that some leaders may cancel their trips right before the summit because of direct or indirect pressure from China.”
The newspaper further reported that “Tokyo’s concern highlights the intensifying race on the continent (Africa) among many countries including Japan, China and Russia, to expand their presence there.”
It also said “from 2000 through 2017, African countries enjoyed relatively high real economic growth of 4.3 per cent on average which has prompted many Western firms to believe in the future potential of African economies.”
But despite the pressure from China to stop some African leaders from attending TICAD7, the event is a huge success as several African leaders are participating in the event billed to end tomorrow. President Muhammadu Buhari will present a speech tomorrow during the third plenary session of the conference.
The president who is also billed to meet Prime Minister Abe today, will as well meet with the Nigerian community in Japan later in the evening.
He will also meet with the General Secretary of the United Nations (UN) on Friday.
Few of the countries whose leaders attended the conference were Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, Austria, Zimbabwe, Angola, Senegal, Mauritiius, Djibouti, among several