The African Business Forum organized by the African Festival Executive Committee was aimed at helping representatives from various African nations promote their country to potential Japanese investors. The forum itself was a precursor to a larger African festival that was held in Yoyogi park, held over the weekend is in part a celebration of Côte d’Ivoire’s relationship with Japan. The seminar was attended by Japanese companies, African dignitaries as well as guest speakers from Japanese entrepreneurs and companies that have found success in Africa and its nations. The attendees included; DMM.Africa, All African chambers of commerce, the African Development Bank as well as all participation Japanese companies.
The panels and speeches included those from; The Ghanaian Ambassador H.E. Mr. Sylvester J. K. Parker Allotey, Director of OSA Kenya Mr. Dick Olango, the Ivorian Ambassador H.E. Mr. Jerome Kloh-Neya. All of the representatives made emphasis in their speeches about the rapid progression of the overall African economy in recent years and the potential it provided to African investors. In 2013 Africa was the fastest growing continent with a GDP growth of 5.4%. This potential was showcased by groups such as the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, as well as companies that had already had success with ventures in African nations. These groups ranged from small one person projects such as producing Kimonos in Benin.
The panels all provided question and answer sessions. One of the more interesting issues facing African nations trying to attract Japanese investment was raised by the Ghanaian Ambassador. The Ambassador presented the issue that Japanese companies often seek to export value added goods to Africa. The Ambassador raised the point that this not only makes the goods unattainable for many Africans but also does not help produce strong ties or help develop the African production level process.
Having the platform for Japanese companies to see these issues prior to investment was very beneficial as pointed out by many of the representatives. By questioning Japanese ventures that had already had success the transition into the African market can become smoother.
The event concluded with a short networking session where companies who had been interested in further ventures could talk to the representatives. The event was followed by a successful two day festival in Yoyogi park including; fashion shows, African food stalls, and music.