On July 25th (Tue.) and 26th (Wed.), the largest business event in Japan with a focus on Africa, “The Second Japan-Africa Business Forum” (organized by the External Representation Office for Asia of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Diplomatic Corps (ADC) in Tokyo) was held in Tokyo.
The forum opened with the remarks by the H.E. Mr. Joao Miguel Vahekeni, Chair of the ADC Trade and Investment Committee, Ambassador of the Republic of Angola; Mr. Hisatake Sugi, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Finance; Hon. Mr. Joseph Mwanamveka, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Republic of Malawi; and Mr. Kunio Noji, Chair of the Committee on Sub-Saharan Africa, Keidanren: Chairman of the Board, Komatsu Ltd.
Speaking through a video message was Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, the 8th elected President of the African Development Bank Group. Dr. Adesina reiterated the “High 5s”, the five priority areas that the Bank will focus on to advance Africa’s transformative agenda over the next 10 years. The “High 5s” are: light up and power Africa, feed Africa, integrate Africa, industrialise Africa, and improve quality of life for the people of Africa. Dr. Adesina expressed much enthusiasm for the forum to be aligned with the “High 5s”.
The forum was co-organized by UNIDO ITPO Tokyo along with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). UNIDO ITPO Tokyo contributed to the forum by organizing a booth exhibition at the venue, showcasing 9 Japanese companies operating in Africa: Lequio Power Technology Corp., Meiwa Co., Ltd., Komatsu Ltd., TROMSO CO.,LTD., Anchor Network Service, Inc., MAYEKAWA MFG. CO., LTD., Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., OTOWA ELECTRIC CO.,LTD., and DMM. Africa. The booth was filled with participants from both the African and Japanese business scenes and the public sector, igniting enthusiasm of numerous discussions on possible perspective of businesses in Africa.
Lequio Power Technology Corp.
Healthcare is one of the areas in which Japanese technology, know-hows and the funding are much anticipated. In the session “Health and Sanitation: For a Healthier African Population”, Mr. Tetsu Kawamura, President of Lequio Power Technology Corp. made a presentation from the private sector’s point of view. Established in 2011, the Okinawa-based company works with over 30 countries with a handful of staff, developing sales channels for affordable medical device. Mr. Kawamura emphasized the importance of education in parallel to utilizing the device and implementing IT. Specifically in Sudan, the company not only sells the ultrasound scanner but also creates a screen that allows the image of the scanning process to be uploaded on cloud in order to provide remote instruction on the usage of the device. “As a first step, the business model in Africa needs to come in one-design with easy operation process as there is often a single doctor present. The additional framework of IT then allows education possible” said Mr. Kawamura, emphasizing its importance. Asked what he wishes for his business, Mr. Kawamura also expressed that he sees that an implementation of a universal standard in Africa will enhance businesses opportunities in the region.
Meiwa Co., Ltd. ◎Registered on Environmental Technology DB◎
Meiwa is a technology-oriented company aiming to bring solutions to Africa for sustainable waste management, agriculture and job creation through its carbonization plants that convert organic waste into charcoal for agricultural use. “I feel that Africa’s eyes are on Japan and the expectation is further rising”, said Representative Director of Meiwa, Mr. Shigeru Kitano. While developing businesses in Kenya, Nigeria and Botswana, the Kanazawa-based company accommodates students from the African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative) for human resource development. This year, Meiwa will accept a total of 30 students for short and long term. “The students get just as excited about our projects as we do”, said Mr. Kitano, who feels that their network and passion links directly to business opportunities in Africa. Meiwa continues to invest in the future, bearing in mind the future with Africa.
The world’s 2nd largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, Komatsu has been developing businesses in Africa through its support offices in South Africa, Kenya and Senegal.
“We had inquiries from potential new customers”, said Mr. Rihito Ohmura and Mr. Shinsaku Himeno of the Africa Group. “Western African countries are homes to mines and are very much interested in our mining equipment. Africa is diverse and definitely has a regional context”. The veterans in the business were busy responding to inquiries, all of which they say they are happy to hear as this event provides precious opportunities to directly learn the needs from the people of various regions in Africa while being in Japan.
TROMSO CO., LTD. ◎Registered on Environmental Technology DB◎
“We’re usually in the field, working with the equipment. A booth exhibition is a very unique opportunity for us”, says Mr. Masaaki Uesugi, COO of Tromoso. Based in an island within the prefecture of Hiroshima, Innoshima, the company manufactures machines which produce briquettes by grinding and compressing rice husk. Approximate 200 thousand tons of husks are discarded annually in Japan alone. “This is a unique effort of communicating towards developing countries how resources can be reproduced from byproducts, an idea generating from an island country of Japan limited with natural resources!”, Mr. Uesugi explained. “We hope to implement our equipment in the refugee camps in Africa to provide the fuel”, he added. The booth was constantly busy with the visitors interested in this unique business model.
Anchor Network Service, Inc.
With the company’s motto of “sustainable usage of goods while embracing the limited natural resource that the humanity has access to”, Anchor Network Service, Inc. provides services in the reuse and recycle of used PCs, Network servers, Smart-phones and other ICT products with secure data erasure. “Being here at the forum is a good opportunity. I have already spoken with people who have expressed interest in seeing our dismantling factory in their country”, said Ms. Izumi Kamiya, Executive Officer and Division Director. Ms. Kamiya also mentioned the perspective of entering the market in South Africa, which originally came from the interest by one of the trainees who was with the African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative). The discussion with the Ambassador in Japan has also taken place as part of their efforts to alleviate poverty and disparity and create jobs. Ms. Kamiya also expressed interest in working together with the African countries from the phase of establishing the framework for industrial waste management.
MAYEKAWA MFG. CO., LTD.
In addition to the booth exhibition with UNIDO, Mr. Tatsuya Tim Narahara, Director of Mayekawa, a worldwide leading industrial refrigeration compressor and equipment manufacturer, made a presentation as a panelist in a session entitled “Agriculture and Agribusiness: Enhancing the Food Value Chain in Africa”. Along the presentations on the roles of the governments, private sector, and international organizations in the food value chain arena, Mr. Naharaha presented specific projects in Cape Verde, Kaolack (Senegal), Gunjur (Gambia), stressing that the industrial refrigeration changes the logistics. To the question during the Q&A on the challenges to compete with Europe, who have the historical relationship with Africa, Mr. Narahara reminded the audience that the Japanese firms bear competitive advantage through the energy saving technologies.
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. ◎Registered on Environmental Technology DB◎
“I’ve brought the model with me”, said Mr. Ryosuke Nishijima, Group Manager of Overseas Market Development Operation Business Unit, in front of the equipment for the water purification system built in a simple and compact format that provides safe access to water. The company is active in West Africa. “There are many people from the private sector, which has a different flare compared to the exhibition targeted at the public sector”, said Mr. Nishijima. “The conversation tends to be much more realistic”, he adds. Mr. Nishijima also expressed interest of the company to further expand into the eastern and the southern part of Africa.
OTOWA ELECTRIC CO., LTD.
A provider of lightning countermeasures, Otowa is also one of the companies active in working with the trainees from the African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative). In fact, their presence in Rwanda originated from an intern from ABE Initiative. “Being here at the forum allows us to hear the needs directly from the people from across Africa”, said Mr. Yusaku Harada from the sales department at Otowa. “I am confident that hearing the needs in the local context will lead us to further business development in Africa”, added Mr. Harada.
DMM.Africa is a newly established venture of DMM.com Group, 2 software development projects in Rwanda and developing new business in Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast and Cameroon in the areas of cosmetics and beauty, IC cards, and industrial infrastructure. Ms. Marie Catherine Ndiaye from Senegal is the first non-Japanese national to enter the company as a newly graduate. “The questions coming from those who visit our booth with interest show that the participants to the forum is serious about expanding businesses into Africa”, says Ms. Ndiaye, who was eagerly explaining the business to the visitors to their booth. “Being here is a great opportunity to think about my career, too. It just makes me realize that there is so much to do!”, said Ms. Ndiaye with a smile.
Last November, Mr. Robert N. Ford, was invited to Japan as a delegate for UNIDO ITPO Tokyo. Currently the Vice President of Rwanda ICT Chamber, Mr. Ford participated in the forum with much anticipation towards the enthusiasm that filled the forum. “Africa knows! It knows that Japanese products come with quality” Mr. Ford started to explain. “In Rwanda, we’re running with speed, as we have a ‘lost decade’. But we also understand that Japan needs time, which teaches us the importance of follow-ups and how the value lies in building sustainable relationships. These are the key factors in doing businesses with Japanese counterparts”, said Mr. Ford passionately. “I feel that in the next few years, we will definitely be seeing an increase in businesses between Africa and Japan”, added Mr. Ford.
Also a former delegate of the UNIDO ITPO Tokyo is Mr. Mohammed Baba, currently the Deputy Director of Investment Facilitation including Japan at Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission. “Nigeria is full of potential”, said Mr. Baba. “I sincerely hope that Japanese companies see the possibilities the country has and I have no doubt that the potentials can be noticed as we get to know each other. My job is to open the door and introduce the country to the Japanese counterparts”, added Mr. Baba, who was constantly catching up with new and familiar faces at the venue.
Date/Time: 25th – 26th July, 2017
Venue: Iino Hall & Conference Center
(Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 2-1-1 Iino Building 4F)
Theme: Investment and Business Opportunities with Africa
Organizers: African Diplomatic Corps (ADC), African Development Bank (AfDB)
Co-Organizers: Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)
UNIDO ITPO Tokyo
Language: Japanese/English/French (with Simultaneous interpretation)
UNIDO Booth – Exhibitors & Technolgies