Japan is strengthening bilateral ties with several mineral-producing nations in Africa in an effort to forge new supply chains and eliminate bottlenecks.
The country’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Yasutoshi Nishimura, kicked off a five-country African tour on August 6, with a slate of deals expected to be signed in the coming days.
During his visit, Minister Nishimura is traveling to Namibia where he is set to issue a proposal for a Rare Earth Industry Master Plan.
Japan plans to collaborate with Namibia on the establishment of a supply chain in this area, with a critical minerals seminar set to be held in Japan to support this endeavor.
In Angola, Minister Nishimura is expected to sign a joint agreement with his Angolan counterpart, Minister of Economy and Planning, Mário Caetano João, aimed at advancing cooperation in the fields of trade and investment and supporting opportunities for Angolan and Japanese companies within both markets.
Minister Nishimura will also be traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) under efforts to secure new supplies of cobalt, copper and lithium. The DRC currently produces 70% of the world’s cobalt and 10% of the world’s copper; Minister Nishimura plans to tap into this resource pool, while encouraging Japanese companies such as the Japan Organization for Metals and Energy Security (JOGMEC) to conduct exploration for copper and lithium.
Meanwhile, Minister Nishimura is traveling to mineral-rich Zambia to propose JOGMEC’s exploration of minerals such as copper and nickel in the southern African country. These potential investment opportunities will be further explored in a dedicated Japan-Zambia roundtable discussion, spearheaded by a delegation of Japanese firms.
Off the continental coast in Madagascar, Minister Nishimura is set to call for heightened cooperation on the Ambatovy nickel project, which represents one of the world’s largest nickel mining operations and largest foreign investments in sub-Saharan Africa. Japanese trade and business firm, Sumitomo Corporation, has controlling interests in the project.
In addition to formalizing trade deals with several African countries, the Minister’s multi-nation tour will set the stage for Japanese companies to invest in Africa. The Japanese government has already begun to incentivize Japanese investors and companies to acquire, develop and invest in mines across the continent, with a view to diversifying global supply chains through technical and capital cooperation.