Japan has launched a major push for its companies to have larger share of Africa’s business as it prepares investment and tax treaties with countries on the continent over the next three years.
Premier Shinzo Abe told the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) — which ended in Nairobi on Sunday — that Japanese firms will only seek partnerships that inculcate “quality, resilience and stability” in Africa.
Japan has, for decades, defined its presence in countries like Kenya through aid, but is now widening its scope to the private sector — a move that places it in a head-to-head battle with China.
“The time has come to make the best of Japan’s capabilities, Japanese companies’ capabilities, for the advancement of Africa, where you seek nothing but quality in your socio-economic development,” Mr Abe said.
Among other goals the Sh3 trillion Ticad VI plan of action seeks to fight infectious diseases to make Africa resilient.
The plan also targets to create stability by increased financing of peace and security initiatives while also boosting infrastructure, human resources, and spread its “kaizen” philosophy across the continent.
Kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices and personal efficiency and is recognised as a pillar for an organisation’s long-term competitive strategy.
Japan, in partnership with New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), has said it will spread its productivity-enhancing “kaizen,” philosophy throughout Africa.
“Japanese companies are committed to quality. Theirs is a manufacturing philosophy that holds each individual worker in high esteem.” Mr Abe said of the initiative that seeks to boost factory production by 30 per cent.
The Nairobi forum attracted 75 business executives led by chairman of Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) Sadayuki Sakakibara.
READ: At least 75 Japanese firms in Nairobi for Ticad
The team, described by Mr Abe as “the entire Who’s Who in the Japanese business world” oversaw the launch of Japan-Africa Public and Private Economic Forum.
The top business executives, accompanied by members of the Japanese Cabinet, will henceforth be visiting Africa once every three years.
Japan’s profile in Kenya has been gradually diminishing in the past decade as an increasingly assertive China clinched multi-million shilling infrastructure deals and doubled its development aid to the country.
Its main goal is to encourage private investments through loans from its state-controlled banks and to scale up its lending to government.