Fidelis Munyoro Chief Reporter
Zimbabwe is targeting the forthcoming Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) as part of the “open for business” drive to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) needed to develop all sectors of the economy.
The three-day TICAD Summit, slated for August 28 in Yokohama, has become a major global platform through which Asian and African nations, as well as international stakeholders, can collaborate to promote Africa’s development.
African Heads of State, including President Mnangagwa, are expected to lead high-powered business delegations to Japan for the summit.
Yesterday, Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Toshiyuki Iwado paid a courtesy call on President Mnangagwa ahead of his visit to the Asian country, and briefed him over developments on the summit.
“It was a very short, but important meeting where His Excellency the President confirmed that he will be leading the Zimbabwe delegation to TICAD 7 Summit which will be held in Yokohama from 28 to 30 August,” he said.
“I want to express my gratitude to the President and our government will be very happy to receive him and his delegation.”
Ambassador Iwado said Zimbabwe and Japan enjoyed cordial relations ever since Harare opened its embassy in Tokyo in 1982.
In a major development, Ambassador Iwado said, in 2015 the Japanese government made a decision to resume full-scale development schemes in the country as part of bilateral relations between the two countries.
“Although trade between our two countries is low, our government is committed to promote and scale up the existing bilateral cooperation,” he said.
The conference comes as a plus for President Mnangagwa’s administration which has adopted the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra, to strengthen bilateral ties with the Asian country and bring investors from that corner of the world.
Securing international investments is critical for the country, which is also suffering from drought and other economic shocks.
The country’s economy, which used to be an agricultural powerhouse, has suffered severely since the imposition economic sanctions by the United States and its allies following the land reform programme in 2000.
The TICAD 7 Summit will be held in the city of Yokohama under the theme: “Africa and Yokohama, Sharing Passion for the Future.”
Mr Iwado said efforts are underway to have more Japanese companies investing in Zimbabwe in response to the ongoing economic reform process, with Tokyo and Harare pushing for improved bilateral relations.
“There are only two companies currently operating in Zimbabwe. One is Astra Paints and the other one is Toyota,” he said.
“We used to have almost 30 Japanese company offices in Harare only. This means more should be done to improve the situation now. We have enormous potential improve and grow.”
In February this year, a high-powered Japanese business delegation visited the country and paid a courtesy call on President Mnangagwa before holding a series of meetings with ministers with a view to exploring business opportunities in the country.
Relations between Zimbabwe and Japan improved over recent years, with various projects being undertaken under the Japan Official Development Assistance (ODA) framework.
There are plans to commence infrastructure development under the North-South corridor.
Zimbabwe has been a beneficiary of humanitarian aid from Japan, but the trend is shifting with the two countries now taking the relationship to better levels where they embark on projects that enrich both sides.