Africa to receive $550 million in aid

Kyodo

Japan will provide $550 million in new aid to African nations to help foster peace and stability on the continent, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announced at a preparatory aid meeting in Ethiopia, government officials said.

The ¥52.4 billion package disclosed Saturday is part of Tokyo’s efforts to combat terrorism in Africa following the deaths in January of 10 Japanese who were taken hostage in Algeria. The fresh assistance includes funds to bolster antiterrorism measures, enhance policing and strengthen Japan’s ties with Africa.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to unveil an even larger aid package at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development that he will chair from June 1 to 3 in Yokohama.

Japan is using the two-day event in Addis Ababa, a preparatory meeting for the fifth TICAD summit, to consolidate existing alliances and boost its clout on the resource-rich continent at a time when China is vigorously continuing its “donor diplomacy” to secure local concessions.

In remarks to the gathering Saturday, Kishida, one of the chairmen, called for greater promotion of trade and investment in Africa, saying the TICAD summit, which has been held every five years since 1993, aims to achieve growth by linking the continent’s “expectations” with the “enthusiasm” of Japan’s private sector.

He was later expected to urge cooperation from African countries in ensuring the safety of Japanese visiting or living in Africa.

The new funding is designed to boost the response capacity of police forces in the southern Sahara, where porous borders allow Islamist militants to come and go as they please, and to assist refugees in Sudan and South Sudan, the Horn of Africa and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Most of the new money has been earmarked in a supplementary budget approved by the Diet in late February.

Participants at the meeting were also scheduled to discuss a document to be adopted at the TICAD summit, as well as infrastructure projects funded by official development assistance from Japan, the expansion of trade and investment, and measures to tackle Islamist extremism.