The introduction of instant noodles by Nissin Foods Holdings Company of Japan in Kenya is a great initiative aimed at promoting cultural ties between Japan and Kenya. Japan established relations with Kenya nearly sixty years ago and since then has been instrumental in the development of country by supporting projects in areas of health, Agriculture , education, engineering, Environment and social Forestry.
Jomo Kenyatta University College of Agriculture & Technology (JKUAT) is a leading project by Japan in Kenya. JKUAT provides technical education in agriculture and technology not only in Kenya, but also in East and Central Africa.
According to Japanese Ambassador Tatsushi Terada, during the ceremony to launch the partnership between of Nissin Foods Holdings Co.Ltd of Japan and JKUAT at the African Institute of Capacity building, Japan will focus more in building capacity in human resource development.
During the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD V) held in Yokohama, Japan pledged assistance to Africa and is committed to do so. According to Terada, Business education initiative for Youth (ABE) is one of the major assistance by his country to Africa. ABE initiative is a five year strategic plan providing 1000 young men and women from Africa with opportunities to study business management and Entrepreurship in Japanese universities as well as doing internship at Japanese enterprises.
Nissin and JKUAT have entered into partnership to establish factory in Kenya at the University to produce instant noodles. Nissin is the first noodle manufacturer in the world. Its partnership with Jomo Kenyatta university college of Agriculture (JKUAT) is the first such public business engagement between japan and Kenya. The factory is estimated to cost half a billion Kenya shillings and will employ over fifty people when completed. It will be built on a two acre piece of land at the university.
Noodle is a famous Japanese traditional delicacy. Besides being tasty and easy to make, Noodles are safe and affordable. Unlike other dishes which take some time to prepare, cup-noodles only require little hot water for less than five minutes to be ready.
Japan is on a mission to bring Africa closer and to woo investment in the continent as recently demonstrated by its Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he visited three Africa nations of Upper Volta, Mozambique and Ethiopia. Abe who according many observers in Japan is the most stable Prime Minister and who is likely to finish his term in office as compared to his previous predecessors, is determined to ensure that the presence of his country in Africa is felt.
Although his visit to Africa agitated other partners in Africa, Japan seems to have an upper hand when it comes to dealing with African issues because of its neutrality and liberal behavior when it comes to handling international issues.
Nissin and JKUAT have been collaborating since 2008 through the “Odisha Project.” Oishi is one of the company’s 100 Corporate Social Responsibility projects started in commemoration of Nissin’s 50 years anniversary in 2008.The project is in line with Nissin's corporate philosophy that Peace will come to the world when there is enough food for everyone.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of Nissin, Mr. Koki Ando, the collaboration between his company and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is to foster instant noodles facility in Kenya and Africa. Since 2008 Nissin has been providing as donation instant noodles to school children in Kenya. According to statistics, out of 8.2 million pupils in Kenya, only 1.2 million get meals in schools.
Ando believes that noodles production in Africa will contribute greatly in increasing food security as well as the economic development of the people in Africa. Food insecurity is a perennial issue in most African countries especially the Horn of Africa. Currently, nearly fourteen million people are threatened with starvation in the horn of Africa as a result of global and climatic changes.
In most African countries, children are malnourished and dying at infant ages because most families are poor and are not able to get enough food per day to feed the children. Mortality rate among children in Kenya is high between 4-5 % but with improved food security and medical attention, it can easily become low.
By Denise A. O. Kodhe,
Executive Director, Institute for Democracy & Leadership in Africa- IDEA.