African Development Bank President Dr Akinwumi Adesina has urged Japanese businesses to invest more in renewables and other vital sectors in Africa, including the hydropower sector.

Speaking at the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8), Adesina said investment opportunities and returns on investment in Africa are among the highest in the world, and urged participants to assess Africa’s investment opportunities based on facts and evidence, and not on perceptions. 

“In 2020, Moody’s Analytics performed a 10-year cumulative assessment of global infrastructure debt default rates, by region. It found that Africa was the region with the second lowest cumulative default rate, after the Middle East. That is proof once again that infrastructure as an asset class in Africa is solid, secure, and profitable,” Adesina said.

Speaking by video link at the event, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan had achieved its goal of contributing $20 billion to Africa within the private sector, a goal it had set at TICAD7 in 2019. Kishida also announced new commitments. He said Japan “will provide co-financing of up to $5 billion, together with the African Development Bank, in order to improve the lives of African people.”

Senegal’s President Macky Sall said Japanese corporations have the “technological and financial capacity needed to set up partnerships in Africa in sectors such as infrastructure, transportation and housing.”

The African Union Commission’s Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat lauded Japan for its efforts to build African capacity through education and training. He praised a Japanese initiative that has trained over 1000 young Africans in nutrition.

During a forum for the business community, Adesina named two spheres where he hoped to see increased Japanese engagement with Africa, namely bilateral trade and investment. He said that Africa accounted for just 0.003% of Japan’s $2 trillion in global foreign direct investment.

Adesina stressed that Japanese firms which were bold in their investments in Africa were those that were prospering. He gave the example of Toyota Tsusho’s investment in automobile factories in South Africa, which had generated $8.5 billion in revenues in March of 2022. Others, he said, included Komatsu and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Adesina named other vital investment sectors including the production of lithium batteries that power electric vehicles, agribusiness and renewable energy, including from hydropower, wind and geothermal sources.

TICAD8 also included the signing ceremony for 91 memoranda of understanding that Japan’s government and businesses have agreed on with African corporations or governments.

The pacts included projects across all five regions of Africa to develop human resource technical skills and green hydrogen, water desalination and geothermal solutions.

TICAD, which takes place every three years, is organized by the government of Japan, the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme, the African Union Commission, and the World Bank.