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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s interview with Ethiopian Herald

January 12th 2014

January 12, 2014

Q: The Yokohama Declaration of TICAD V recognizes the importance of Investment as a vital engine of growth. However, the reality on the ground shows that Japanese investment in Ethiopia lags far behind compared to other countries. Your Excellency, can you tell us what your government has achieved to improve Japanese investment in Ethiopia so far, and what the future prospects are in this regard? What are your expectations from this visit?

A: Prime Minister Hailemariam and I worked together successfully as Co-Chairpersons, and between us we achieved a good outcome for TICADV, which was held in June 2013 in Yokohama. During TICADV, we formulated clear guidelines and concrete policies for hand-in-hand cooperation toward Africa’s growth. Therefore, I am looking forward to discussing how to promote bilateral economic relations with His Excellency again.

Human resources are the most important base for a nation’s development. Also, the development of infrastructure is indispensable to attract investment. Based on these ideas, Japan has provided a variety of development assistance, including support for Human Development and road construction.

For example, an enlarged role for women is one of the keys to Africa’s development. Japan will seek to share its expertise on the active role that women play, by inviting women entrepreneurs to Japan in the future.

Also, Japanese academics are working together with Ethiopian policy makers to enhance Ethiopia’s image as an export country through creating promising products.

High productivity is one of the important factors to improve the investment environment. In this regard, we are glad to know that the Japanese concept of “Kaizen - continuous improvement in productivity”has been embraced by Ethiopia and has become a national project.

With the second largest population on the African continent, Ethiopia’s potential as a market is immense. On my upcoming visit, I will be bringing representatives of Japanese private companies with me. I hope this opportunity will result in a significant increase in the business relations between our two countries.
In order for this to be achieved, I also hope that further improvements in the investment environment, such as the maintenance of infrastructure and the simplification of customs procedures, could be undertaken. Japanese companies are careful when making decisions to invest, but once they decide, they do not withdraw easily.

This year is symbolic for both our countries because it is the 50th anniversary of Abebe Bikila winning the gold medal in the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics. Taking this opportunity, we are planning to commence direct flights between Japan and Ethiopia. I hope that the interaction of people will deepen further not only in economic relations but also in other ways, such as through sports.

Q: The Growth and Transformation plan of the Ethiopian Government embeds a lot of feasible mega projects that require additional external resources, especially in the Energy Sector. Parallel to your Government’s Grant Assistances in various sectors, will there be any possibilities of soft and/or concessional loans to be considered in this regard?

A: My dream is to make suggestions about our cooperation that are inspired by Japanese wisdom and heartfelt desire to contribute in order to enhance the capability of African countries, and realize their growth.
Japan will not “focus on the development of a country only to secure natural resources nor for export destinations”. We attach a high value to interaction between people.

Japan is vigorously supporting the development of infrastructure as one of its priority areas of assistance in order to realize agricultural development and industrialization in Ethiopia.

In particular, considering the demand for electric power in Ethiopia, we are providing assistance, including the formulation of a master plan for geothermal power generation, in order to contribute to the development of stable sources of power. Currently, we are implementing a Feasibility Study (F/S) for the development of geothermal power in Aluto Langano. Once the feasibility of formulating a project is confirmed, it is assumed that this project will be the first after the resumption of a concessional loan.

At TICAD V, which was held in June last year, Japan announced that it will contribute to the growth of Africa in the next 5 years by utilizing private and public means of up to USD 32 billion, including ODA of approx. USD 14 billion. Japan also announced some concrete policies such as financial assistance of approx. JPY 650 billion for infrastructure, including the assistance in the power sector. Japan will continue to encourage the sustainable development of Ethiopia through cooperation that makes use of Japanese technical expertise and experience.