Nigeria has called for increased trade ties between Japan and Africa, saying a paltry $29 billion trade volume cannot sustain economic growth on the continent.
Vice President Namadi Sambo, made the call on Saturday, at the fifth edition of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development,(TICAD V), holding in Yokohama, Japan.
Representing President Goodluck Jonathan at the Summit, Sambo stressed that if Africa must sustain its economic development, the expansion of trade within the continent and also with the rest of the world, including Japan was critical.
He decried trade imbalance between Japan and Africa compared to Japan with countries under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN countries),
“While the value of total two-way trade between Japan and ASEAN countries was over US$205 Billion in 2012, trade between Japan and Africa was a paltry US$29 billion in the same period.
“To enhance the level of trade between Africa and Japan, therefore, there is an urgent need to promote private sector interface between Japan and Africa under TICAD, “he stated.
The Vice President however, acknowledged the giant strides achieved under TICAD, since its inception in 1993, particularly in Nigeria in the areas of rural water supply, basic education, health care delivery, rural electrification and women empowerment, among others.
He spoke further, “for us in Africa, this is a momentous period. Indeed, we salute the strides that we have made together under the auspices of the TICAD process and express deep appreciation to Japan for its support and steadfastness. We note with gratitude, the zeal of Japan to Africa’s cause and acknowledge that Japan has faithfully implemented the assistance it pledged to Africa under TICAD IV.”
He used the opportunity to call on Japan under TICAD V to further sustain her partnership with the African continent to address Africa’s infrastructural and employment deficit by way of increased investment, repositioning of agriculture as a business enterprise, youth and women empowerment, human capital development as well as engaging and interacting with Africa’ s private sector through purposeful trade missions to the continent.
“We believe that addressing the infrastructure gaps, including sustained private investment in infrastructural development will unleash the potentials for future growth of the continent and contribute to the mutual benefits of the TICAD aspirations.
“It is our hope therefore, that TICAD V would support Africa’s infrastructural needs through the establishment of mega power plants, high speed rail transportation and private sector-led investments in the agriculture value chains on the basis of public-private partnership.
“Skill acquisition and transfer of technology are essential avenues to create jobs for our teaming population and also fast-track the transition from informal to formal economic activities. We join TICAD V to also consider specific measures to empower women as economic actors,” Sambo said.
Speaking earlier at the opening session chaired by the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and Co-chaired by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn, the former promised that his country will do more than they did during the TICAD IV. He noted the strategic importance of Africa and the need to reposition the continent for rapid socio-economic progress.
Other speakers at the event were Mr Banki Moon, UN Secretary General, Nkosazara Dlamini Zuma Secretary General of the African Union Commission, UNDP secretary Mrs Shannon Maris and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who all spoke on the need to support Africa’s steady economic growth.