Dozens of African leaders trooped into Yokohama city on Japan’s Pacific coast in late August and heard prime minister Shinzo Abe promise that Japan’s private sector will invest $20 billion over three years in Africa. What’s more, said Abe, Tokyo would offer “limitless support” for investment, innovation, enterprise, and entrepreneurship, with backing from Japan’s government-backed institutions.
The promises of cooperation were made at the seventh Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD). It is one of several such gatherings that now occur across the globe, where countries make their vows to Africa and court African partners for aid, trade, investment. China’s deepening presence in Africa, however, looms large over them all and so it was at TICAD. China is now Africa’s largest trade partner and its largest infrastructure funder. Last year, president Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion for development projects in Africa.