Yokohama, Japan (New Ziana) – President Emmerson Mnangagwa met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for talks on Friday and secured fresh support for Zimbabwe across different sectors to help the country’s economic recovery.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad), and agreed a Japanese assistance package that includes areas of health, road, construction, health, irrigation and infrastructure development.
The three-day Ticad is a platform for interaction between Japan
and Africa as well as other interested partners. Japan has committed over US$1 billion to Zimbabwe since establishing diplomatic relations with the country in 1980 in combined loan support, grant aid and technical assistance.
President Mnangagwa told journalists after the meeting the support
from Japan was mostly in the form of grants, which the country does
not have to pay back.
“I met with His Excellency the Prime Minister of Japan, PM Abe this
morning and in the process we shared our views on co-operation,
economic and trade cooperation between Zimbabwe and Japan,” he said.
“Japan is eager to do its best to support our recovery, they are well informed about our situation and have given us several grants to assist us recover in various areas in particular in the agriculture sector.”
The Asian country has also provided over US$20 million for the
rehabilitation of a dangerous patch along Chirundu road and an
irrigation scheme in Nyanga, which President Mnangagwa will soon commission.
Japan, the Head of State said, has also promised to look into funding the ring road around Harare as well as rehabilitation of Birchenough Birdge.
“He (PM Abe) has undertaken to say Japan will refurbish and modernise the paediatric ward at Harare Hospital, it will cost some money, but they agreed that they will take that project,” President Mnangagwa said.
The project will be funded to the tune of around US$2.7 million.
Other sectors that will benefit from Japanese support include
information communications technology, mining and infrastructure
“We can see that Japan is eager to develop relations with Zimbabwe,”
President Mnangagwa said. The two countries are also considering establishing a Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation, a government to government platform that will further develop ties between them.
After the meeting with PM Abe, President Mnangagwa met with various
Japanese companies interested in doing business in Zimbabwe.
First in line was the Association of African Economies and Development (Afrec), an independent organisation that organises trade missions for Japanese companies to explore and invest in Africa.
“We are planning to visit Zimbabwe to discuss investment in
infrastructure,” said Afrec president, Tetsuro Yano. Officials from the Export Trading Group, an agricultural commodities firm, also met with President Mnangagwa to discuss further investments.
The firm already has operations in Zimbabwe and assists farmers’
source inputs and is also involved in the marketing and export of the produce.
“We are quite interested to increase our activities in Zimbabwe and to help the agri-economy of Zimbabwe,” said ETG director, Osamu Kanatake. Kanetake said ETG acknowledged that Zimbabwe was going through a transition and had potential to do well.
President Mnangagwa also met with representatives of the Japan
International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is involved in the
rehabilitation of the Chirundu road project.
The agency also promised to avail 150 000 metric tonnes of grain in
support of drought relief efforts. President Mnangagwa was due to pay a courtesy call on Japan’s new emperor, Naruhito later on Friday.