Mugabe warns Japanese companies

Mugabe warns Japanese companies
Published: 30 June 2013
President Mugabe on Saturday warned Japanese companies that they must not behave like Africa's erstwhile colonisers when they come to invest on the continent.

Addressing a plenary session at the  on-going 5th Tokyo International Conference for African Development here, President Mugabe said former colonisers never wanted Africa to benefit from its resources.

"Mr chairman, I just want to touch on two things, one: we have just celebrated our (African Union) Jubilee hardly a week ago," he said.

"And one issue that we looked at was the level of our development in Africa. Although some strides have been made, it was quite clear to us that some of us are still at a primary economic level depending on primary goods and so the industry that is relevant there is the extractive industry.

"Those we have related to, our erstwhile colonisers, Europe especially, have not wanted to see us elevate ourselves by way of beneficiating our goods, our primary goods.

"I would want us to impart to them this one idea that as they come to interact with us they should come as partners who would want to see us develop as they have done."

President Mugabe said Africa would continue supplying raw materials to Japan, but that should now be done at another level.

"It's, therefore, not just a question of being suppliers of raw materials, yes raw materials we will supply," he said.

"We want to do so at a price and that price should be preparedness on the part of Japan or the companies to impart that technology to us, therefore, help us beneficiate our primary products so they can, with added value, sell at greater prices than at the moment, that means, of course, industrialisation."

President Mugabe said Western countries never wanted African countries to industrialise.
"This is the quest for Africa," he said.

"We have been producing primary products for a long time. Not much help from America and Europe to see us develop our economies through industrialisation.

"In fact, that has not been something they liked. Our relations with the EAC was that we produced, we supplied on protocol, for example, Zimbabwe was supplying beef, other countries supplying other products.

"So, there has not been that readiness to see us industrialise. One would hope that as you come to interact with us, you will be ready to impart that technology to us."

President Mugabe said in Zimbabwe an agreement by a Japanese company called Tosh to eventually manufacture Mazda 323s using local resources was never implemented.

"That is 20 years ago and we have not been able to go above 30 percent and that case from one of your companies is an important one," he said.

"That resistance, we say throw (it) away and be ready to impart technology and assist us in industrialising our economy and building our economy to a level you see in the world of Tigers — Singapore and Malaysia."

Officially opening the TICAD conference, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to support Africa with US$32 billion in the next five years.

He said the money would go towards improving healthcare systems, infrastructure development, vocational training, underwriting trade insurance and improving agriculture.

Mr Abe said Africa had numerous hardships to overcome, including setbacks in development projects, accumulated debt, poverty and conflicts.

"The idea that poverty can be overcome through growth is something that has been axiomatic for Japan right from the start," he said.

"It is also because we never doubted Africa's potential.

"What Africa now needs is private sector investment. Public-Private Partnership leverages that investment."

"If we recognise this as a new reality, then it will be necessary to revolutionalise the way of providing assistance to Africa."

Mr Abe said his country would construct "hubs for human resource development" at 10 locations in Africa.

He said Africa's agriculture would not become strong unless women on the continent were made strong. Peace and stability, he said, comprised all the foundations for Africa's development.
"Japan and Africa have now gone ‘beyond being good partners' to being more like co-managers," said Mr Abe.

"We grow together through our mutual interactions and through this we have become partners that will bring growth to the world."

African Union chairperson and Ethiopian Prime Minister Mr Ato Hailemariam Dessalegn said in his official remarks that Japan came to the aid of Africa when other countries abandoned the continent after the Cold War.

"It is, however, ironic that Japan's involvement in the area of investment in the continent is a far cry from the kind of huge presence he should by now have achieved compared to relative newcomers currently in Africa," he said.


The 5th TICAD conference is being attended by several African leaders, Japanese officials and international development partners.
The first conference was held in 1993, the second in 1998, the third in 2003 and the fourth in 2008.
- SundayMail
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