Japan’s Private Sector Eyes Kenya Through Partnerships

Japan’s Private Sector Eyes Kenya Through Partnerships

L-R:Meghraj Capital Chair Binoy Meghraj, KAM Chair Sachen Gudka, Japan Business Council for Africa Co-chair Yokoi Yasuhiko, Principal Technical Director Technical Cooperation METI Japan Asakura Daisuke and KAM CEO Phyllis Wakiaga/Courtesy

Japan’s corporate and private sector business leaders are banking on agriculture, health,  and energy to forge partnerships with their Kenyan counterparts as one way of opening the two markets.

Yokoi-san, Japan Business Council for Africa Representative said Kenya is Japan’s gateway to investing in the region and in Africa as a whole. 

“It is the most promising country amongst others,” he said at a media briefing Monday at the sidelines of the ongoing two days Kenya – Japan Trade Fair.

The trade fair which ends Tuesday is providing an opportunity to bridge the trade gap between Japan and Kenya.

According to Yokoi-san, the main challenges that have been a hindrance to them is historical and geographical. He says the main issue is familiarisation with the market.

However, “This is not a new market for us. There are risks which we have to cope with in new emerging markets,” he says.

“Businesses are ready to gain knowledge and insights into the African market,” he adds with optimism besides terming familiarity as the greatest barrier for Japan’s business to take up businesses in Africa.

“We established the Japan Business Council for Africa to enhance economic relations with African countries. Kenya is a strategic partner because it is our gateway to developing business regionally besides being the most promising in terms of economic development.”

Sachen Gudka, Chairman, Kenya Association of Manufacturer (KAM) said Japan’s approach is reciprocal. “They are looking for a win-win situation. It is about relationships not transactional-based. It is a long term vision and through this forum, we look forward to Joint ventures.”

“In providing technology and knowledge transfer from Japan, Kenya is a complete partner.”

Gudka emphasised that collaboration and strategic partnerships are fundamental to improving business outcomes. The partnership between Kenyan and Japanese companies will be a key driver towards the achievement of the Big Four Agenda and increasing the sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 15% by 2022.

“The more we increase our collaboration in driving the efficiency of our local industry, not only will we realize both our economic goals but also create wealth and increase the purchasing power of all Citizens,”  he disclosed.

Data from Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) from its 2019 Survey on Business Conditions of Japanese in Africa, “Although the ratio of profitable companies is 50%, which is lower than other regions, about 60% of companies are considering expanding their business with an eye on the future.”

“Kenya, which has seen a remarkable rise in startups, has been at the top as a future investment destination for the fifth consecutive year,” part of the findings from the survey conducted between September 24 to October 25, 2019 read.

In Africa, a willingness to conduct new expansion in next-generation business development was seen in Kenya (59.5%), Egypt (58.6%) and Nigeria (54.5%). 

Speaking at the briefing, METI Japan Principal Deputy Director Technical Cooperation Asakura said they look forward to working with Kenya and establishing a Japan Business Council for Africa to drive industrial growth in the continent.

Meghraj Group Chair Mr. Binoy Meghraj noted that foreign direct investment is a sure way of driving industrial growth in both countries and that global partnerships are key to ensuring foreign direct investment in the country.

“East Africa and especially Kenya is a fast-growing economy. The ability to connect with people from different countries will drive this growth further and drive industrial growth in both countries. Through this partnership,  companies will enjoy the transfer of information on business processes from the factory floor to management as well as investments,” said Mr Meghraj.

The Kenya – Japan Business Forum is organized by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), Japan Business Council for Africa (JBCA), Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and Meghraj Capital.