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Abe pledges $83.4 million in aid to stabilize Africa’s Sahel region

JIJI/kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara on Friday that Japan will provide $83.4 million in humanitarian assistance to stabilize the southern Saharan Sahel region by March.

Of the aid, Japan will offer $7.7 million to Cote d’Ivoire, according to a joint statement issued by the two leaders.

With the assistance, Japan hopes to stabilize the region in a bid to support economic growth and help more Japanese companies launch operations there.

At the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) in Yokohama in June last year, Abe announced a policy of providing ¥100 billion over five years in funds for antiterrorism measures in the Sahel region.

Abe said this time that Japan will help African countries to train security personnel to eradicate terrorism.

The prime minister also said Tokyo will fully start work to help African countries improve transport and other infrastructure.

The Cote d’Ivoire president thanked Japan for its support, saying that Japanese investment will contribute to economic growth in his country.

This is the first time that a Japanese prime minister has visited a West African country where the national language is French.

Abe picked Cote d’Ivoire as the first destination on his current trip to Africa because the country is considered an economic center in West Africa, where the population is some 300 million, sources said.

With Cote d’Ivoire undergoing a process of economic reconstruction after many years of political turmoil, Abe vowed to offer the maximum amount of aid so that the country can secure peace and stability.

Abe was also to unveil a plan to extend over $7 million to support the self-reliance of women in Africa.

The prime minister was scheduled to leave Cote d’Ivoire on Saturday for the two remaining destinations on his trip in Africa, Mozambique and Ethiopia. He will return to Tokyo on Wednesday.