Japan's Investors targets agriculture

A JAPANESE firm, Nitori Holdings Company Limited, plans to invest 100 million US dollars (over 160bn/-) in agricultural production and manufacturing in Tanzania, which would create thousands of jobs and boost the country's earnings from exports.

"Our dream is to invest in cotton production and set up a fully-fledged textile industry in Tanzania. We will highly appreciate it if the government would support us achieve that dream," Nitori's Senior Managing Director, Shoshin Komiya told President Jakaya Kikwete here.

President Kikwete responded by assuring the prospective investor of Tanzania's willingness to accommodate Japanese investments. 

"I have met the Prime Minister (Mr Shinzo Abe) this morning (yesterday) and we have had fruitful discussions on bilateral cooperation on investments. You are warmly welcome to Tanzania and you will be accorded all support to the best of our ability."

President Kikwete and his delegation had earlier toured the company's Tokyo-based supermarket that displays a wide range of products ranging from large furniture (sofas, dining tables, kitchen cabinets and beds) to interior decoration goods like curtains, carpets, beddings and other household goods.

Mr Komiya requested allocation of 20,000 hectares for cotton growing and supply of at least 40,000 pieces of cattle hides annually for the manufacturing of leather sofas for the export markets: "We want 20,000 hectares to grow cotton which we will completely process into final products for our chain of stores," he said.'

He also said with 40,000 slaughtered cattle annually, the envisaged furniture factory will get enough raw materials for the production of high quality goods -- leather sofas in particular. Mr Kikwete told the investor that Tanzania was endowed with ample arable land and immense natural resources to meet the demand:

"You have asked for 40,000 pieces of cattle hides; you just come and we will supply you 10 times your demand... we have over 17 million cattle in Tanzania," the president quipped. Nitori, which boasts of 300 stores in Japan, plans to increase the number of its stores tenfold to 3,000 stores in the next 20 years, with more focus directed at Africa in general and Tanzania in particular.

The company's officials have been to Tanzania five times, looking for investment opportunities. Another team expected to jet in early next week. "We dream about seeing Africa, especially Tanzania, becoming our manufacturing base," Mr Komiya told the visiting president and his delegation.

Nitori's Global Business Division Manager Satoshi Naguchi told the 'Daily News' that the company plans to invest 100 million dollars for the cultivation of cotton and establishment of the envisaged industries. The president also visited Toshiba Science Museum where he was briefed on the company's technological advancement in railway, renewable energy and electronics fields.

Toshiba Vice-President Hideo Kitamura said the company was capable of curbing the problem of traffic jams in Tanzanian cities through development of modern railways systems and locomotives. Mr Kitamura admired Tanzania's young population which he described as a catalyst to quick, positive and sustained economic growth.

At the meeting attended by Transport Minister Harrison Mwakyembe, President Kikwete said his government would like to work closely with the company. "There are many areas that we can cooperate... we are not yet contemplating electrical trains but they are not off-option too."

President Kikwete arrived in Japan on Wednesday evening for the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) that is scheduled for June 1 through June 3, 2013. The president is, however, using the opportunity to canvas for prospective Japanese investors to Tanzania. He is this morning expected to visit Sumitomo Corporation.
Source: The Daily News, reported by Masato Masato in Tokyo, Japan
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