Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on over the weekend warned Japanese companies against neo-colonialism a few hours after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged a $32 billion aid package in public and private support to boost the continent’s growth.
Mugabe, 82 and at the helm in Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980, has been at odds with the West, and was at it again when he spoke a plenary session of African leaders during the fifth Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) accusing Europe and America of deliberately denying the continent industrialisation.
“Those we have related in the past, they happen to be our erstwhile colonizes, Europe especially have not wanted to see us elevate ourselves by way of beneficiating our goods and so as we look forward to interact with Japanese companies I would want us to impart to them this one idea that as they come to interact with us they do so as partners who would want to see us develop in the same way as they have done,” Mugabe said
He said that Africa should not just be a supplier of raw materials but should do so at a price “and that price should be the preparedness on the part of Japan or the countries that will interact with us to impart their technology to us in us also beneficiate our primary products and sale at greater prices than at the moment.”
We have been producing primary products for a long, long, time and there has been no much help from the Europe and America to see us develop our economies by way of industrialising them…,” he said.
Japan pledged to African leaders a $32 billion in public and private support on Saturday to help growth on the continent and encourage Japanese firms to invest there over the next five years.
Abe at the opening of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), also included $1 billion official development aid and $6.5 billion support to help infrastructure.
Malawi President Joyce Banda, dubbed by Forbes Magazine as Africa’s most influential woman, in a separate forum sounded more diplomatic than Mugabe but the message was the same.
“The international community needs to redirect its policies from one that has seen Africa as a perpetual aid destination to one that works with Africa. Africa has now acquired skills, knowledge and a vast network across the world..,” she said.
“Africa has successful governments that have demonstrated that it is possible to close the gender gap and to empower its women to achieve development.”
Resource-poor Japan has long been keen on Africa’s vast natural resources, even more so since dependence on oil and gas imports surged after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster shut almost all of Japan’s nuclear reactors.
Japan’s direct investment in Africa was $460 million in 2011, compared with China’s $3.17 billion, according to the Japan External Trade Organization and China’s government data.
Some 50 African leaders gathered for the three-day conference held in Yokohama near Tokyo to discuss issues such as economic development, peace-making and anti-piracy.
Abe, who has been engaged in aggressive diplomacy since he took office in December, also said he planned to visit Africa as soon as possible.
State-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) will also provide financial support worth $2 billion in the next five years to help Japanese firms’ natural resource development projects, aiming to catch up with China.
Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI), also state-run will secure the maximum of $2 billion trade and investment insurance framework.