Editor’s Note: January 15, 2019

Japan is getting serious about Africa

Japan’s Bank for International Cooperation and trading firm Toyota Tsusho have announced plans to raise around $600m from public and private lenders to fund a port project in southern Angola.

The deal is a good illustration of Tokyo’s changing relationship with Africa under prime minister Shinzō Abe. In 2016 he pledged $30bn of investment over three years, with two thirds to come from the private sector, signalling a shift away from a historic emphasis on development aid.

The move is overdue. While Japan is the world’s fourth largest investor by FDI Stock, it punches well below its weight in Africa, where it does not make the top ten.

With Tokyo’s backing businesses are starting to take advantage of this untapped potential. This includes expansion plans by those already active in Africa, like car giants Toyota and Nissan, withothers looking to enter the market.

Tokyo is also putting more effort into courting African leaders – part of a broader strategy.

In November 2016 Abe and India’s prime minister Narendra Modi announced plans for the “Asia-Africa growth corridor”, an ambitious trade network to compete with China’s Belt and Roadinitiative.

It’s debatable how realistic this goal is, but Japan’s growing commercial interest should be welcome news for African economies.

From The Continent

Gabon’s president Ali Bongo is expected to return to his country today following more than two months of secretive medical leave, and a week after a thwarted coup attempt against his government. The incident reflects doubts about Bongo’s ability to govern amid ongoing speculation about the state of his health. More: France 24


Mobile telecom tower infrastructure company Helios Towers is entering South Africa via a partnership with Vulatel Pty Ltd. to build fixed line and wireless infrastructure. The company, which is also active in Ghana, Tanzania, DRC and Republic of Congo, plans to spend about $100m in South Africa over the next three years. More: Bloomberg

The Daily Stat

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The number of years Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir, who is facing unprecedented public pressure to leave office amid an acute economic crisis, has been in power. MoreDaily Nati

The Global Perspective

Russian diamond miner Alrosa has announced plans to start operations in Zimbabwe, having suspended plans to expand into the country in 2016. This comes amid waning confidence in president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s management of the economy, which is experiencing its worst crisis in a decade. More: Reuters

Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel is reportedly in talks to buy Telkom Kenya, the country’s third largest operator, in a bid to counter Safaricom’s dominance of the market.The two companies originally held and later abandoned merger talks last year More: Economic Times

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