The SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence, Tax visited Tokyo, Japan on 22 – 28 November to embark on high-level policy dialogue with the Government of Japan, JICA and the Japanese business community.
The ES undertook this visit as part of her efforts to accelerate resource mobilisation for SADC priorities and to explore opportunities for investment in the Region, based on the SADC Revised Indicative Strategic Development Plan, the Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, the priority regional infrastructure projects and the TICAD framework.
In her meeting with the Japanese Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Masakazu Hamachi, the ES expressed gratitude to the Government of Japan for the continued cooperation and support to SADC at regional level in various areas. She said that the visit was an important step towards strengthening SADC-Japan cooperation on development.
The Vice-Minister expressed Japan’s commitment to deepening its relations with the SADC Region, and affirmed that Japan intends to utilise TICAD VI as a vehicle for making its support to Africa more visible. “Among other things, Japan is considering ways of increasing the participation of public and private sectors, focusing on, among other things: Transport and Energy and the Development of Agriculture through agro-processing for value-addition”, he added
The two sides reaffirmed the importance of their cooperation and undertook to continue to work together, guided by the 2012 Memorandum on Cooperation, which prioritises: Infrastructure, Promotion and Expansion of Trade, Investment and Tourism and Private Sector Development; Agriculture and Natural Resources, as well as Political Dialogue. In this regard, SADC and Japan will, among other things, fast-track implementation of the newly signed SADC-Japan Regional Forestry Project and roll-out the Energy Sector Master Plan for Southern Africa, currently being prepared through JICA’s assistance.
On the same day, the ES met with the President of JICA, Professor Emeritus Shinichi Kitaoka; the Vice-President, Mr. Hiroshi Kato; and the Director General for Africa Department, Mr. Hideo Eguchi, where she outlined major developments in the SADC Region, notably the revision of the RISDP and the preparation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
Dr. Tax presented the SADC priority regional infrastructure projects which are ready for investment. She emphasised the need to deepen SADC-JICA collaboration at the regional level through TICAD VI, and expressed the importance of regional projects to the investors. “Regional projects enable investors to benefit from economies of scale, a bigger market and achieve greater returns on investment. They are easier to implement due to multi-country participation and ownership", she said.
The SADC mission was informed that Japan was diversifying its approaches to Africa’s development by increasing its support to regional integration. Japan reassured SADC of its commitment to Africa and the SADC Region, due to the latter’s abundant natural resources, high potential for growth and political stability.JICA is undertaking a study to develop an Energy Sector Master Plan for the Southern African Region, which is to be used for mobilising resources for the priority energy projects. Japan is also engaging specific countries and investors to generate more support for the Mozambique gas value-chain.
The ES expressed gratitude to JICA for its support to SADC, saying that “SADC has benefitted from the Kazungula Bridge, support to One-Stop Border Posts, the Advisor to the SADC Secretariat in 2011 – 2013, the ABE Initiative and the SADC-Japan Forestry Project”.
As part of the four-day long deliberations, the ES met with the Chairman of the Committee on Africa-Japan Relations of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives – Mr. Mamoru Sekiyama and Dr. Katsumi Hirano – Vice-President of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO).
Among other things, Dr. Tax and Mr. Sekiyama agreed to hold regular meetings to identify areas for strengthening the relations between the two sides, and to advocate for investment in the SADC infrastructure projects by the Japanese private sector. Mr. Sekiyama undertook to promote the concept of broad regional development through the private sector under TICAD VI.
SADC and JETRO saw the next TICAD as an opportunity to further strengthen their cooperation with regard to SADC’s engagement with the private sector. Going forward, the two sides agreed to work together through the JETRO Johannesburg Centre, which plays a key coordination role in carrying out promotions and campaigns to attract Japanese companies to the SADC Region. SADC also confirmed that it would participate in the Japan-Africa Investment Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2015.
One of the main highlights of the mission was a seminar on investment opportunities in the SADC Region, where Director of Infrastructure and Services, MrRemigious Makumbepresented a detailed description of the targeted priority regional infrastructure projects in the Energy, Transport, ICT, Water and Tourism sectors.
The Secretariat delegation also met with the Committee of SADC Ambassadors in Tokyo as part of the high-level visit. In the meeting with the SADC Ambassadors, the ES stressed the importance of regular engagement between SADC and the Ambassadors so as to ensure unanimity of engagement with the Japanese counterparts.
Dr. Tax was accompanied by Director of Policy, Planning and Resource Mobilisation – Dr. Angelo Mondlane, Director of Infrastructure and Services – Mr. Remigious Makumbe, Programme Officer ICP Coordination – Mr. Mojakisane Mathaha and Technical Advisor to the Executive Secretary – Mr. Yohane Masara.