Tanzania and Japan ties set for new heights

Japan supports Tanzania’s endeavors to achieve sustainable economic growth as well as cutting down abject poverty. The areas of assistance were attached to such areas as economic, social infrastructure and increased agriculture production. The 'Daily News' Senior Business Reporter, Sebastian Mrindoko interviews the Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania Mr Masaki Okada on bilateral relations between his country and Tanzania

Q. What makes Tanzania the largest recipient of Japanese assistance in the sub-Saharan Africa?

It is not by accident, but Tanzania deserves the kinds of assistances from Japan largely due to the peaceful situation that the country is enjoying compared to the rest in the Africa. Peace and security are among the fundamental factors which attract donors and investors.

The government of Japan has been attaching priorities to economic and social infrastructure building such as roads, electricity supply and water supply as well as transfer of technology related to rice production or irrigation. Also Tanzania’s government and Development Partners including Japan endorsed the Joint Assistance Strategy for Tanzania (JAST) on aid harmonisation and alignment to the systems.

The Division of Labour among development partners as policy dialogue based on General Budget Support (GBS) as stipulated in the JAST, continue to be conducted. Japan has been prioritizing its assistance in areas in which it has expertise and comparative advantage.

The cooperation between Tanzania and Japan is not limited to bilateral relations as they have been closely working together in international fora, such as the United Nations. To ensure peace, stability and development are attained in the African continent; Japanese government has pledged a further 550 million US dollars.

It is also committed to providing on the ground support across the continent conducting operations to prevent piracy off the east coast of Africa and provide humanitarian assistance n the Sahel region including Mali.

Q. Why is the number of Japanese firms operating in the country still limited despite a long established partnership between Tanzania and Japan?

The economic relations between Tanzania and Japan stagnated in the 1980s and 1990s due to the economic difficulties in Tanzania and the sluggish economy in Japan after the bubble burst in the early 1990s. Some of the Japanese companies which pitched their tents into the Tanzania market include Panasonic Energy Tanzania Co. Ltd, Sumitomo, Mitsubishi, Konoike Construction Co. Ltd, Nishizawa Tanzania Ltd and Sekikui Chemical Tanzania Ltd.

However, as Tanzania started to develop dynamically since the beginning of this century, more and more Japanese companies are becoming interested in Tanzania as a growing market endowed with abundant natural resources. It is sure that in the near future the economic relations between Tanzania and Japan will reach a new stage of cooperation.

After experiencing recovery and once again fast growing economy in the 1990’s and 2000’s todate, Japanese firms and other Asian companies have been expanding to Africa especially in the East Africa to grab the emerging opportunities in different sectors of the economy.

Q. Agriculture is still the backbone of most African economies including Tanzania. How is Japan supporting agriculture expansion, especially in area of value addition, for sustainable economic development?

The government of Japan is committed to ensure agriculture sector in Tanzania is modernized and yield high returns to both the farmers and increased contributions to the national economy. There already several projects like rice production in Moshi, Kilimanjaro Region that has been run for several decades by both countries.

To establish sustainable agriculture growth, the government of Japan in collaboration with the Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives sent two professors to Arusha School of Technology to conduct courses on irrigation technology.

The training aims at empowering human resources because it will help the government to better explore vast resources and be able to produce some addition value in the resources. This will make development inclusive.

When President Kikwete was attending the TICAD meeting this year, he witnessed the signing of loan deal in the tune of 35.1 million US dollars (about 56.16bn/-) to renovate old and build new small scale irrigation projects. Upon completion of the projects, irrigation sector will grow at around 5 per cent and 10 per cent for the old schemes.

The funds will also help regional and district authorities implement the projects.

Q. More than 50 per cent of Tanzania's imports from Japan are automobiles but there is influx of substandard spare parts in the local market.

What is the government of Japan doing to address the situation? It is true the volume of business on automobiles from Japan with most African countries is huge and there is a shared concern on substandard spare parts.

What the Japanese government could recommend in this area is for the consumers to find the authorized dealers like Toyota to buy genuine spare parts. It is very difficult for the government of Japan to intervene directly in curbing the illegal business. But the Tanzania government is in good position to intervene and stop the illegal business.

Source: The Daily News, Reported in Dar es Salaam
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