Japan pledges $2 bil. in support of African resource development

The Japanese government on Saturday vowed to provide $2 billion in financial support for resource development projects by Japanese companies in Africa over the next five years, and to enhance training of personnel in the continent's resource industry.

The initiatives were unveiled during a meeting that brought together ministers and representatives from Japan and 15 African countries in charge of resource issues. The event was held ahead of a summit-level international conference on African development next month in Yokohama.

"We hosted this kind of ministerial meeting for the first time...and it has become a good starting point to draw active investment from Japanese companies and to back the sustainable development of resources in Africa," Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a press conference after chairing the meeting with South African Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu.

Based on the initiatives, government-affiliated Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. plans to provide to Japanese companies capital and other forms of financial support worth $2 billion for exploration and development projects of oil, gas, mineral and other resources.

The government also plans to promote the development of human resources in Africa, with the goal of training 1,000 people over the next five years, and will offer cooperation in the areas of environmental protection at mine sites and worker safety.

"There was a time when mining was active in Japan. I think we can share our experience of overcoming environmental pollution problems," Motegi said.

The minister also said that participants agreed to hold the Japan-Africa ministerial meeting for resource development every two years.

Motegi denied that Japan is hosting these events to counter China's increasing influence in resource-rich Africa.

"This meeting was to create a win-win relationship between Japan and Africa...We will enhance ties with Africa with a 'Japanese touch'...which is not simply about developing coal mines and importing the resources but also helping Africa's self-sustaining development," he said.

Shabangu stressed the importance of achieving substantial progress through the gatherings.

"It's not going to help us to come here and have meetings which are not yielding any results. Hence we want to make sure that every two years, we meet, review, identify gaps for this partnership to be strong," she said.