Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged ¥500 million ($5 million) for agricultural transformation in Ethiopia and offered support to expand the east African nation’s geothermal and renewal energy capacities in his concluding stop of a weeklong four-nation tour that included Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire and Oman.
In Mozambique on Sunday, Mr. Abe promised ¥70 billion ($672 million) worth of investment in the country’s natural resources sector. Mozambique intends to build four LNG units with a total capacity of 20 million metric tonnes per year by 2018. Japan is the world’s largest importer of LNG.
“The Abe administration is the administration that has placed the greatest emphasis on Japan’s relationship with Africa,” said Mr. Abe.
In Tokyo, prior to his departure, Mr. Abe described Africa as “the frontier for Japanese diplomacy”, in comments made to reporters. Mr. Abe’s visit to Africa is the first by a Japanese leader in eight years.
In the course of his visit, Mr. Abe was expected to pledge nearly $14 billion in aid and trade deals across the continent in what is seen as an attempt to boost Japan’s international profile and drum up business for Japan’s private sector in the face of China’s rise.
The visit is intended to shore up the world’s third largest economy’s access to fossil fuels at a time when the Fukushima tragedy has forced Japan to shut down 50 nuclear reactors that accounted for nearly a quarter of the country’s energy needs.
While the Kingdom of Oman is believed to have played a significant role in energy diplomacy in the Gulf region from where Japan sources 90 percent of its fossil fuels and 30 percent of its natural gas, Mozambique is set to become one of the world’s largest suppliers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) after the recent discovery of vast offshore gas fields.
Earlier this week, Mr. Abe stopped off in Abidjan, capital of Cote d’Ivoire, where he met leaders of the ECOWAS regional grouping and promised $ 83.4 million for counter-terrorism efforts in the Sahel region.