A total of 75 Japanese firms have arrived in Nairobi as the sixth session of Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) gets underway.
The firms have pitched tents to exhibit products in part of efforts to catch up with their Chinese and Indian counterparts which currently dominate the African market.
“These are firms which are passionate about Africa,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier today at a joint press briefing with President Uhuru Kenyatta. “I hope my visit will boost bilateral relations with Kenya (and Africa).”
The firms represents three quarters of the 100 top Japanese companies that the Ticad Secretariat had indicated would participate at the Nairobi forum.
Japanese firms have generally lagged behind their Chinese and Indian firms in trade and investments in Africa. Ticad comes with a Sh3.2 trillion investment package on key growth drivers of the continent’s economy.
Top segment of interest
Nairobi is hosts the first Ticad forum to be held outside Tokyo between tomorrow and Sunday. Product exhibition and other side events have been going on from Tuesday.
So far, Africa’s green energy drive has emerged as a top segment of interest for the Japanese firms. Toyota Tshusho is, for instance, actively involved the geothermal energy generation at Olkaria Plant of Naivasha.
The firm is also involved in transport and fertiliser production in Kenya. “Our 15,000 Africa-dedicated staff in 53 nations are contributing to the continent’s future in a wide range of fields,” the firms says.
On Thursday, a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Toshiba Corporation signed an MoU with Kenya Power to pilot a project aimed at cutting distribution losses in the national grid.
The MoU with Toshiba Transmission & Distribution Systems (India) will enable Kenya Power to replace its oil transformers with gas to keep vandals at bay.