Japan in Africa: What Lessons for Africa?

Published on 14th January 2014

Africans are alive to two neighbors: Japan and China, who are keen to influence the continent. The just concluded Africa tour by Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, serves to solidify Japanese links with African countries.

Africa’s geological resources and expanding market opportunities will continue to attract external interests in the decades to come. It is important that Africans evolve a sound strategy of engagement with all the interested parties. Africans must put the continent’s interest first and avoid the surrender to the prodding of one external interest against the other.

Both China and Japan have a lot to teach Africa. From China, Africa can learn from how China manages its vast population and how it rose from a poor country to one of the most influential developing countries. From Japan; Africa can learn from how Japan, a small island country, has managed to remain an influential global economic power for decades and has facilitated other countries to grow their economies. Since Africans are the ones offering the goods (natural resources and market growth opportunities); promises from both China and Japan should never be allowed to cloud the urgent need for sound strategy to engage external interests.

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