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Economy

Japan promises billions for health, energy, infrastructure

President Uhuru Kenyatta and other Kenya government officials at the headquarters of Yurikamome Inc, the company that runs Tokyo's automated high-speed rail. PHOTO | COURTESY
President Uhuru Kenyatta and other Kenya government officials at the headquarters of Yurikamome Inc, the company that runs Tokyo's automated high-speed rail. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Japan has shown interest in taking part in a number of Kenya’s upcoming infrastructure projects and pledged $33 million (about Sh3 billion) to help fund President Uhuru Kenyatta’s universal healthcare plan.

The Far East nation also pledged to support Kenya in fighting terrorism.

This emerged after President Kenyatta held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday at the premier’s official residence in Tokyo.

The two leaders also discussed energy sector investments — specifically geothermal power development — scholarships for Kenyans in maritime studies, and closer security and intelligence links to help fight global terrorism.

“We would do well to partner more closely in border and maritime security… and enhancing our counter-terrorism capabilities,” President Kenyatta said.

He commended Japan’s review of its Official Development Assistance Charter to include co-operation and funding of non-military security projects.

“The non-military assistance — in the amount of $200 million (Sh18 billion) — to countries affected by terrorism… is a very welcome gesture,” he said.

President Kenyatta, who was accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries Amina Mohamed, Michael Kamau and Henry Rotich, said Japan is both a model for Kenya and an invaluable development partner of long standing.

He singled out Japan’s financing of the Mombasa Port expansion project, and the 140MW Geothermal Power Project commissioned at Olkaria 1 last month.

“This project has improved productivity and competitiveness by lowering the cost of electricity substantially,” President Kenyatta said. “Kenya is now a leader in the development of geothermal power sector.”

On the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), President Kenyatta said Kenya is committed to hosting the TICAD VI summit.

“We are working within the African Union framework to reach an early consensus on Kenya’s bid to host TICAD VI,” he said.

Kenya also pledged its support for Japan’s candidature for election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2016/17. President Kenyatta said he, within the context of the Committee of 10 of the AU on UN reform, would work with Japan to ensure the UN reform momentum was sustained.

Prime Minister Abe hailed President Kenyatta’s leadership on UN reform.

“The world has changed since the inception of the UN and Security Council, and we need reform to reflect those changes,” PM Abe told President Kenyatta. “We are encouraged by your leadership on the subject within the context of the AU. Japan strongly supports significant enhancement of the African presence on the UN Security Council.”

Earlier, the President visited Yurikamome Inc and toured a high-speed electric train with a carrying capacity of 6,000 persons per hour. Kenya intends to implement a similar project to decongest the city of Nairobi. He also visited the Port of Tokyo to share experience in port reforms.

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