On 3rd May 2022, KEPSA, led by the CEO Ms. Carole Kariuki, co-hosted a high-level Plenary Session of the 2nd Japan – Africa Public-Private Economic Forum (JAfEF) at Serena Hotel, Nairobi. The Japan-Africa Public-Private Economic Forum aims to promote cooperation by private companies in both Japan and Africa and brings together people from the highest levels of the public and private sectors in Japan and Africa to discuss how all these sectors can work together to achieve tangible business results.
Present during the event included Hon. Betty Maina – Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development of Kenya; Mr. Kenichi Hosoda – State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan; Ms. Takako Suzuki – State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan; H.E Okaniwa Ken – Japanese Ambassador to Kenya; Amb. Kirimi Kaberia – Principal Secretary, State Department for Industrialization; Mr. Kazushige Nobutani – President of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO); Mr. Jun Karube – Chairman of Japan Business Federation; Mr. Mutsuo Iwai – Chairman of Japan Association of Corporate Executives Kenya; Mr. Mucai Kunyiha – Chairman of Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and KEPSA Director; Mr. Rajan Shah – Vice-Chairman of KAM; Mr. Samuel Matonda – CEO of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry among other visiting head of missions, ministers and private sector players and dignitaries from Japan and various African countries.
In his welcoming remarks, Amb. Kaberia reiterated and acknowledged the strong and cordial relations prevailing between the government of the Republic of Japan and the Republic of Kenya, and the African continent in general. He also noted that as the world continually moves into digital infrastructure, Kenya can only progress to be at par with the rest of the world in the field of industrialization. “Africa acknowledges and generally appreciates the content and the role played by Japan in advancing industrialization in Africa and also globally. The Japanese companies through human resource development, technology and skills transfer have immensely contributed to industrialization in Africa,” He noted.
Mr. Kenichi Hosoda noted that Japan is very eager to contribute to the economic growth of Africa. He said that Japanese companies with various technologies and know-how can contribute to improving the quality of life for people in Africa by tackling the social challenges and accelerating the growth of Africa. “Our vision is to nurture a win-win relationship between Japan and Africa through the public-private partnerships. To this end, it is very important that more Japanese companies have the correct ideas of the latest changes and innovations in Africa, how best to utilise Japan’s technologies and know-how for collaboration with African companies and thereby creating business opportunities,” He said.
Mr. Hosoda also mentioned the establishment of a hub by JETRO in Africa that will promote collaboration between Japanese companies and African startups. This platform, he said, will provide hands-on support for collaboration through events and individual meeting arrangements. The State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan said that she was encouraged by the fact that Japan shares the view of African countries, which is; private investment is indispensable to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her remarks, the KEPSA CEO assured that Kenya, through numerous development and reforms, has positioned herself as the gateway into the African market. She mentioned the AfCFTA, which was operationalized in January 2022 with increased market opportunities, reduction of tariffs and with a promise of consolidated efforts to eliminate non-tariff barriers. This, she said, puts all investors setting shop in Kenya at a vantage point to benefit from the world’s largest free trade area.
Ms. Kariuki also acknowledged the close partnership between Kenya’s public and private sectors to ensure the country is ready to tap into the opportunities presented by the expanded African market. “We have coordinated in areas of reforms pertaining to the development and implementation of regulations and legislations that facilitate both local and foreign investments. For instance, we have a supportive Company law, Insolvency Law and Business Law. The Company Act has made it easy for one to start a business here including for single directorship,” She remarked. She also noted that KEPSA will continue to work with the public sector and different strategic partners such as JETRO and JICA to ensure that the business environment is conducive for enhanced growth and development of the private sector.
Hon. Maina started by acknowledging the strong support accorded to Africa by Japan in promoting high-level policy dialogue among African leaders, development partners and the international community. She added that Africa has been one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, rich in natural resources and a fast-growing population estimated to reach up to 2 billion people in 2050. “Trade relations between Africa and Asia have grown significantly in recent years where Africa and Japan have a fairly even reciprocal trade pattern. In 2020, Africa’s exports to Japan were around USD8.6 billion, whereas African imports from Japan were approximately USD7.9 billion,” She said.
The Cabinet Secretary noted that there are commendable strides that have been undertaken to ensure the positive development of Africa. These include the enhanced role of regional integration through the Regional Economic Communities to expand industrialization, trade and investments. She went on to say that the forum provides an avenue to revisit issues covered in the Yokohama Action Plan of 2019 and contribute to the ongoing preparations of the forthcoming TICAD 8 to be held in Tunisia in 2022. “Africa will need to deepen its relationships with countries like Japan through greater trade, investment and technological exchange,” She added.
During the event, it was revealed that a total of 18 MoUs have been signed since the last JAfEF event in December 2021 including MOU on;
- Development of Isiolo Solar Project, Kenya
- Joint Initiatives on vehicle KD project
- Joint venture of broadband business between CSquared and the Government of Togo
- Joint FS for the development of the Mini Hydropower Station project
- Toyota Tsusho (CFAO) and Goodlife Pharmacy
- Bio Jet fuel project in Ethiopia utilizing Japanese technology
- Joint FS for the development of gas, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric power plant projects, green hydrogen, green ammonia and micro hydropower projects in Eastern and Southern Africa; between Mitsui and Aqua Power
- Japan’s Africa Health and Wellbeing Initiative (AfHWIN) and Kenya’s healthcare policy and initiatives
- Office of Healthcare Policy, The Cabinet Secretariat of Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kenya
- Program on Human Resource Development for Industry 4.0 in Kenya between KAM and AOTS
- Promoting economic development between TDB and NEXI
- Partnership between Afreximbank and NEXI
- Partnership between Japanese and Afrocan Private and Public Sectors between DFP and AVCA
- Enhancing Innovation in Africa Agriculture and Logistics Sector between DFP and MOL
- Partnership to bridge the innovation ecosystems between DFP and AfricArena
- Partnership between Japanese and African Healthcare Sector between DFP and AHB
- Comprehensive collaboration between Stallion Group and Marubeni Corporation
- Partnership for Offtake Methanol between Brass Fertiliser and Marubeni
It emerged that there are many opportunities for Japanese and Kenyan companies to invest in, especially in areas with a lot of untapped potential including Agriculture, Infrastructure Development, Manufacturing, Green Energy, and Health among others. The Japanese investors were also encouraged to expand their presence in the African continent, which, among other things, would greatly facilitate industrialization, trade and investment between Japan and Africa.