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General News of Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Source: GNA

Japan pledges $4bn to support Africa's transportation

From Kwaku Osei Bonsu, GNA Special Correspondent, Yokohama, Japan

Yokohama, May 28, GNA - Japan on Wednesday pledged 4 billion dollars in soft loans to help Africa to improve its transportation infrastructure as part of a package of initiatives to hasten economic growth and reduce poverty on the continent.

In addition, Japan has created an investment facility within its Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC) to finance investments by Japanese companies in Africa and has decided to double its grant aid, Overseas Development Assistance and Technical Co-operation. Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said this at the opening of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) at the port city of Yokohama.

President John Agyekum Kufuor is among the 35 African Heads of State who are attending the three-days meeting being held under the theme " Towards a vibrant Africa: Continent of Hope and Opportunity." Japan, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Coalition for Africa, the World Bank and the Office of the UN Secretary General's Special Advisor on Africa are jointly organizing the conference to strengthen the recent positive political and economic trends in the Continent.

Mr Fukuda expressed the determination of his country to "walk alongside the African people, shoulder to shoulder" and said his country would stand by them to achieve their own Green Revolution. This they would do by helping the continent to increase its current rice production of 14 million tonnes by 100 per cent within the next 10 years through the development of irrigation systems, improved crop varieties and technology application.

"Japan hopes to share its insights and experiences to resolve issues such as health and sanitation and encourage growth in Africa." It would therefore train 100,000 Africans over the next five years as health workers, will contribute 560 million dollars to the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and dispatch researchers to engage in joint research work with their counterparts in the continent towards the solution of various problems. African Union Chairman Jakaya Kikwete, said Africa wanted to see more involvement and active presence and participation of the Japanese private sector on the continent.

Japan's Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa has remained low. In 2002 and 2004 it amounted to 415 million dollars, approximately 0.4 per cent of its FDI flow of 108.5 billion dollars. With regard to trade, goods and services exported to Japan from Africa were less than two per cent of Japan's total imports in 2003-2004.

"This must change and it is possible for that change to happen. There can be more investments and more trade between us. Africa is safer, prospective and lucrative place to invest", he said. 28 May 2008

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