Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), has commended the government of Japan for its strong support of the Bank and its multi-billion economic transformation partnership with Africa.
Adesina identified the private sector, energy, and infrastructure development as key sectors that have benefitted from Japan’s support.
Speaking at the Nobel Prize Dialogue in Yokohama as a global expert on food, agriculture, and development, the AfDB president highlighted huge business opportunities for Japanese investment in the agribusiness sector.
He also emphasised the strategic importance of two new initiatives by the bank – the Transformation of the African Savannah Initiative (TASI) and the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme for scaling up agricultural technologies for millions of farmers.
Both initiatives are aimed at reducing Africa’s widening and increasingly expensive net food trade deficit.
Adesina highlighted the importance of good nutrition, especially for young mothers and babies, and said Africa’s most important infrastructure is “the grey matter infrastructure” of babies and young children.
“Stunted children today mean stunted economies tomorrow”, said Adesina, who is championing a continent-wide initiative to end the burden of malnutrition in Africa – the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN)
During his official visit to Japan, Adesina met top officials, including Taro Aso, deputy prime minister; Masatsugu Asakawa, vice minister of finance for international affairs, and other key government ministers and stakeholders to consider issues of mutual concern.
Adesina recalled the Bank’s long, close and friendly relationship with the government of Japan and commended Japan for committing $6 billion to fund energy projects in Africa through the Japan Africa Energy Initiative facility, which allows Africa to access Japanese technologies and expertise.
He described the recently signed $6 billion Japan-Africa Energy Financing Facility as “a product of the personal engagement and close relationship the Bank has with African Ambassadors resident in Japan, as well as a special relationship between the Bank and the Government of Japan.”
Adesina assured Japanese officials that the bank’s planned general capital Increase would predominantly benefit Africa’s lower income countries.
During meetings with executives of the Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the Africa-Japan Relations Committee, the Japanese Association of Corporate Executives, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the African Development Bank made a case for enhanced private sector participation in Africa’s development and new methods of financing.
According to Adesina, “the Africa Investment Forum (AIF), scheduled for November 7-9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, is an ideal platform for this new approach to funding projects in Africa. Through the Africa Investment Forum, the bank and other partner multilateral development banks will create a platform for bankable projects, investment financing, and opportunities for growing infrastructure investment across Africa.
“The Africa Investment Forum is a 100 percent totally transactional platform, where deals will be concretized and executed. I expect the platform to become Africa’s premier investment marketplace.”
During meetings with Japan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kazuyuki Nakane, the bank shared its keen interest in co-organizing the 2018 Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VII) in Yokohama, in order to strengthen business ties between Japan and Africa.
Adesina also commended the African diplomatic community in Japan for its prominent role in promoting business and investment between Japan and Africa. “On account of your work, the business ties and understandings between Japan and Africa have never been stronger.”
Numerous African Ambassadors in Japan commended the AfDB for strongly supporting Africa’s business development. Ambassador Jérôme Kloh Weya of Cote d’Ivoire conveyed his country’s appreciation for the African Development Bank’s role in refinancing Air Cote d’Ivoire in 2017, and for opening up bright prospects for business opportunities in the West African region.