AIF2023: African Development Bank head Adesina welcomes Japan-Africa partnerships, investments to spur growth .
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Japanese companies are reaping lucrative returns from Africa’s enormous economic potential, African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said in Marrakech as he called for expanded partnerships and greater investment to spur sustainable inclusive growth across the continent.
“Komatsu, the giant equipment company, generated revenue of $1 billion in 2020 in Africa,” Adesina said. “Mitsubishi Corporation and Hitachi have been investing in energy in Africa since the early 20th century. They know Africa well, and they have kept on investing.”
He was speaking during Boosting Africa’s growth with Japan: From Start-ups to Major Companies, a “Special Japan Room” session held on 9 November on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum 2023 Market Days.
It was attended by more than 80 representatives of 40 Japanese entities—startups, investment funds and major corporations and institutions—looking to Africa for opportunity. The African Development Bank’s Executive Director for Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Austria and Saudi Arabia, Takaaki Nomoto, accompanied the delegation. “Through strong public-private partnerships, faster growth of Japanese investments in Africa will occur,” Adesina said. “Africa needs more venture capital and private equity funds to tap into its huge potential,” Adesina said. “And Japan is paying attention.”
These successes have spurred a new generation of Japanese venture capital funds to focus on small and medium African startups, Adesina said. “The number of Japanese companies in Africa increased from 520 in 2010 to 900 in 2020.”
A representative of energy firm KENS.CO presented its investments in Burkina Faso, Burundi, DRC and other African countries. The company’s International Marketing and Business Development Manager Abu Zahed Azad described how it provides solar LED lamps to children that they can use at home to do their homework. The lamps, which can only be charged at school, are helping raise attendance and exam passing rates at schools in Benin and Burkina Faso.
The African Development Bank’s Executive Director for Japan Takaaki Nomoto also affirmed the growing cooperation between Japan and Africa. He expressed optimism about Africa’s future owing to the ambition of its people, and the strong emphasis on private sector led development. “I am one of the optimists on Africa’s growth. The power and ownership of African people on social issues are very similar to those of Japanese people when we tried to modernize after the Meiji restoration in 1868 and when we made rapid growth after World War II,” he said.
The Special Japan Room was presented by a diverse group of startups and representatives of major Japanese companies. The startups included Mr. Kenta Hara, CEO/Founder of AA Health Dynamics(link is external), Ms. Ayako Kasai, CEO/Co-founder of Spiker(link is external), Mr. Kuniyuki Furuta, CEO of SOIK Corporation(link is external), Mr. Satoshi Akita, CEO of WASSHA(link is external) Inc., Founder & CEO Mr. Koichi Sato and Africa Strategy Officer & Co-Founder Ms. Lina Robert of SUCRECUBE Japon(link is external) Inc., Mr. Takuya Hirose, Technology Cooperation Manager for Steinmüller Engineering(link is external) GmbH, and Ms. Airi Ikedo, Director and COO of Index Strategy(link is external), Inc. Additionally, representatives from major Japanese companies, such as Mr. Tadao Saida, Corporate Officer, Managing Director of Sumitomo Corporation Africa(link is external) (Pty) Ltd, and Mr. Yusuke Yamamoto, Regional CEO for Africa and General Manager of Johannesburg Branch of Marubeni Corporation(link is external), also joined the presentation.