Kenya will negotiate access to opportunities in resources and investments during the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development, Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma has said.
Ticad VII is happening in Yokohama, Japan, between Wednesday and Friday under the theme “Africa and Yokohama, Sharing Passion for the Future”.
“We will continue to strengthen our relationship with Japan. And by strengthening that relationship, we will be negotiating to access the opportunities in terms of resources, investments portfolio that Japan has to offer within the framework of Ticad,” Juma said in an interview with PSCU.
An earlier press release by State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo said Kenyan delegation to Ticad 7 would focus on optimising the resources available in Japan for the delivery of the Big Four agenda in agriculture, affordable housing, universal health coverage and manufacturing.
“Hinged on the theme of “Advancing Africa’s Development through People, Technology and Innovation”, TICAD 7 provides an opportunity for Kenya to engage directly with Japanese investors,” Dena said.
Kenya hosted Ticad VI, the first-ever outside Japan and in Africa, which, according to Juma, attracted more than 100 companies from Africa, and in which about 70 MoUs were signed with Japanese companies.
CS Juma said Kenya now expects to attract more interest by Japanese companies who want to invest together with Kenyan capital and business people.
“We will speak to the Japanese around the questions of helping Kenyans SMEs to scale up because our country is largely made up of a huge portfolio of medium and small enterprises. One of the discussions we will have will be around how we can provide a framework of support where SMEs can access support in terms of finance, technology and capacity to grow,” Juma said.
“By their growing, they are not just increasing production but also creating the jobs we are looking for.”
Ambassador Juma acknowledged the growth of Japanese investment in Kenya, giving Tsusho, the part of the conglomerate of Toyota, as an example.
“You can see how much they have grown. They are already beginning a number of assembling plants, to produce more than 10 types of vehicles out of our country and this speaks to our priority on manufacturing,” she said.
Considering that Kenya–Japan trade balance for a long time has been in favour of Tokyo, Ambassador SK Maina said their main focus is to increase the number of export products to Japan, increase foreign direct investment inflows into Kenya and increase tourism for Kenya.
Japan’s exports to Kenya stood at $898 million last year a 17.8 per cent increase from 2017, according to Japan External Trade Organisation’s statistics.
“Towards increasing export products to Japan, we are undertaking a number of initiatives. First, we are focusing on broadening understanding on trade market opportunities in Japan for Kenyan products to diversify Kenya’s exports to the Japan market,” Maina told the Star in an email.
Other efforts, he said, have been through enhanced public diplomacy.
“We have held several seminars and meetings with the Japanese enterprises aimed at creating awareness amongst the Japanese business community on opportunities that exist in Kenya.”
In 2016, when Kenya hosted Ticad VI, exports to Japan were Sh6.34 billion compared to Sh80.7 billion imports.
Source: Star Newspaper.