Abe to invest in Mozambique

By Hu Qingyun Source:Global Times Published: 2014-1-14 0:28:08

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday pledged to invest 70 billion yen ($672 million) in Mozambique over five years, mainly on infrastructure projects including energy.

Japan also plans to train over 300 people in Mozambique on natural resource development projects, Japanese media outlet the Jiji Press reported, sourcing a joint statement issued by Abe and Mozambican President Armando Guebuza in the capital Maputo.

Mozambique is seen as Africa's emerging frontier for natural gas, with several offshore discoveries around 2011.

The amount of gas reserves could represent over 20 years of annual gas consumption in Japan, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

A Japanese foreign ministry official said that Mozambique has the highest growth potential in the world because of its rich resources, the Jiji Press reported.

Abe, who is the first Japanese prime minister to visit Africa in the past eight years, was accompanied by a large delegation of business leaders, saying that Tokyo wanted to extend cooperation with Mozambique.  

Abe mentioned natural gas, education, science and technology "as priority areas for future cooperation."

Japan has to seek new energy sources after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, as the country eventually shut down all of its 50 reactors for safety reasons, Bloomberg reported Monday. 

He Wenping, director of African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the newfound energy resources in Mozambique have not yet been the focus of too many powers, which gave the opportunity to Japan.

Abe's Africa tour also took him to Cote d'Ivoire and his last stop will be Ethiopia next week.

The Asahi Shimbun on Monday labeled Abe's visit to Africa "business diplomacy," adding that a major reason for the country to invest in Mozambique is to compete with China's influence on the continent.

Abe's visit to Mozambique is designed to turn the nation into a strategic base in Africa as Japan tries to counter China, The Asahi Shimbun reported.  

He said that China's influence in Mozambique is not as strong as some other countries in Africa, such as Angola.

"Mozambique is close to regions where Japan used to have lots of investment, such as Malawi. Enhancing cooperation with Mozambique could consolidate its influence in the region," He said.

He noted that Japan is seeking support from more African countries and potential UN votes.

"Japan is also seeking new business markets as the intense relations between Japan, China and South Korea are damaging their business cooperation," He said.  

Despite relatively long-standing connections, Japan's importance to Africa has slipped behind that of China, the AFP reported.

China has become Africa's top trading partner since 2009, according to a white paper released by China's State Council Information Office in August 2013.

Agencies contributed to this story

Posted in: Africa, Asia-Pacific

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