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Marketplace Tech

Japan in on African development

Marketplace Staff May 30, 2008
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Renita Jablonski: A record 2,500 delegates finished a three-day conference in Japan today, drawing up a road map for African development. It’s the fourth African development conference Japan’s organized since the early 90’s. Lucy Craft has this report from Tokyo.


Lucy Craft: While an array of issues from HIV to climate change to microfinance were on the table, the most pressing order of business was the food crisis. The closing declaration proposed steps for donors to help Africa better feed itself by upgrading infrastructure, improved irrigation, and providing training for farmers.

But the back story to the Africa conference, held every five years, is Japan’s bid to become a bigger player in Africa.

Japan and China have grown to become fierce rivals for energy and raw materials in recent years, and Temple University professor Jeff Kingston says Africa is the next major staging ground for the battle of the Asian superpowers:

Jeff Kingston: There’s been a more assertive, high-profile China diplomacy towards Africa. And I think that Japan wants to keep up with Beijing.

Japan has a lot of catching up to do. China’s trade with Africa has surged in recent years, and last year topped $50 billion. That’s more than twice as much as Africa trades with Japan, and is likely to be a hard act for Tokyo to follow.

For Marketplace, this is Lucy Craft in Tokyo.

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