Tokyo closes African summit with claw in China


Foreign investors in Africa should be careful not to overburden the host countries, said Friday the Japanese Prime Minister as a culmination of a summit on Africa, a hint veiled to the gigantic Chinese projects.

"In providing assistance to Africa, we must take into account the debt burden of the country receiving this aid and ensure that this burden does not become excessive," Abe said during the press conference. closing the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) which brought together more than 50 countries of the continent in Yokohama, in the suburbs of the Japanese capital.

In a final statement issued earlier, participants in the summit co-organized with the UN, the World Bank and the African Union stressed the importance of "affordable" and "quality" investments.

China, which has followed suit in Japan with its own conference on development in Africa, now exceeds it by the sums it pledges: $ 60 billion in new funding promised during the China-Africa Summit last year, exactly double the commitments of the previous Ticad, in 2016.

– Training of experts –

The "New Silk Roads" infrastructure project, launched in 2013 by Beijing to link Asia, Europe and Africa to China, has been accused of favoring Chinese companies and workers at the expense of the host countries in debt and disregard human rights and the environment.

"If partner countries are deeply indebted, it hinders the efforts of everyone to enter the market," said Abe on Thursday before African leaders.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang was quick to react, describing Beijing as "unreasonable speculation".

Mr. Abe took the opportunity to promote financing and insurance schemes of Japanese institutions supported by the government, which he believes are investments "quality".

In the next three years, Japan also plans to train experts in 30 countries in Africa on financial risk and public debt management, Abe said.

A new figure of total Japanese investment coming to Africa was not disclosed on Friday.

– "Too much insecurity" –

Analysts did not expect in the days leading up to the summit to see Japan race the figure.

Tokyo chooses to differentiate itself by displaying a willingness to accompany its investments with a "development of human resources", in the words used by a diplomat in charge of Ticad who had not hesitated to name China by comparison.

Since the creation of TICAD in 1993, Japan has "consistently supported human-centered development while respecting the African initiative." The idea that human resources are at the center of development is 'experience of the Japanese,' said Friday Mr Abe, in response to a question about the particularity of Japanese investors compared to those of China, Europe or the United States.

The seventh Ticad, held over three days, focused on private sector investment rather than public development finance.

For example, a preliminary agreement was signed Thursday between the Ivorian government and the Japanese auto giant Toyota to eventually establish a vehicle assembly plant in Côte d'Ivoire, but this project was not further detailed.

The final declaration also welcomes international efforts to reduce the risks of private investment.

At a panel on forest management on Thursday, a topic of concern to the entire planet since the fires in the Amazon – a senior official from the Democratic Republic of Congo has been more direct.

"In my country, there is insecurity and in many African countries there is too much insecurity," said Benjamin Toirambe, secretary general of the Congolese Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.

"An investor can not bring money to a country where today it is said that we have killed this, that we have looted it … This is primarily thanks to private investors we can manage forest resources well, "he added.

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