Japan Pledges $2 Billion for African Projects

TOKYO - Japan is pledging $2 billion for energy and mineral projects in Africa, capping a conference with government resource officials from across the continent as it seeks to catch up with years of Chinese investment.

Japan needs to secure long-term reliable sources of natural materials. It is also eager to provide its technologies to build roads, railways and utilities, providing a competitive alternative to the Chinese state-owned companies that have helped the Asian giant become Africa's dominant investor.

The government funding will be used for direct loans, underwriting of debt offerings and equity stakes in projects covering crude-oil, natural-gas, coal and mineral projects over the next five years.

"This conference has put in place the building blocks to encourage investment from Japanese companies and to help create Africa's sustainable growth," Toshimitsu Motegi, minister of economy, trade and industry, said at a Saturday news conference after a meeting with representatives from 15 African countries that followed the two-day J-SUMIT conference.

Japan put together the conference in hopes of demonstrating the appeal of the long-term approach typical of Japanese companies as many African countries begin to complain about what they see as the heavy-handed approach of China's investments.

Delegates to the conference appeared receptive to the overtures.

John Bande, minister of mining for Malawi, said he had expressions of interest ranging from trading companies such as Marubeni Corp. to auto maker Toyota Motor Corp.


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