Yaw Osafo Maafo, Senior Minister with the new Japanese Ambassador to Ghana
The new Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Tsutomu Himeno, says the Japanese government is ready to partner the Government of Ghana in its industrialisation agenda through investment by the Japanese business community.
Speaking during a courtesy call on Ghana’s Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, at his office in Accra last week, Himeno said in order to attract Japanese investors into the country, the Japanese government would establish the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) office in Ghana as a way of building close collaboration with Ghana and other African countries.
JETRO is a Japanese government-related organisation that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. It was originally established in 1958 to promote Japanese exports abroad.
JETRO’s core focus in the 21st century has shifted towards promoting foreign direct investment into Japan and helping small to medium-size Japanese firms maximise their global export potential.
Mr Osafo-Maafo, in response, told the Japanese Ambassador that in 1970s and 1980s, JETRO once had an office in Ghana. He clearly indicated that government has initiated the Ghana Automotive Manufacturing Development Policy, and some proposals have been received from well-known automotive companies in the world for the establishment of vehicle assembly plant.
The Senior Minister encouraged the Japan government to take advantage of the opportunity in the automobile manufacturing industry. He indicated that Ghana has recently attracted considerable interest from major global vehicle manufacturers in response to government’s prioritisation of the automotive sector as a key strategic anchor of Ghana’s industrialisation plan.
According to the Senior Minister, 89% of cars used in Ghana are second-hand vehicles whilst 10% are new cars. Government, therefore, wants to encourage the use of new cars, and would thus provide incentive packages to local and foreign automobile companies in order to attract new vehicles into the country.
The two officials discussed matters of mutual interest to Ghana and Japan and afforded both sides the opportunity to engage on a number of issues.
The visit and discussions with Mr Osafo-Maafo was a follow-up on President Nana Akufo-Addo’s visit to Japan last year, where he invited the Japanese government and the business community to invest in Ghana and to take advantage of the automobile manufacturing development policy the Ghana government had initiated.
It was also to fulfil a request made by the Prime Minister of Japan in line with a written proposal from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) for Japanese government support for the College of Engineering.
The visit was, therefore, part of efforts to obtain more details about the proposal from KNUST for Japanese government support for the College of Engineering in terms of technical and skills development training.
The ambassador was acting on the request by the Prime Minister of Japan to support the college. He assured the Senior Minister that Japan would be providing the needed support to the College of Engineering.
Ghana is currently one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with a highly favourable investment climate, relatively efficient and rapidly expanding infrastructure (energy, ports, roads and rail). The pursuit of industrialisation places Ghana in a strategic position to become an automotive manufacturing hub in the ECOWAS sub-region.
In the discussion, the Senior Minister encouraged the Japanese Ambassador to support the implementation of the Public Sector Reforms as a key mandate under his office, which seeks to improve efficiency and service delivery for citizens and the private sector.
Yaw Osafo-Maafo indicated that the World Bank is partly funding Ghana’s Public Sector Reforms, and asked the Japanese government, which has an efficient public service delivery system, to assist with the funding and implementation of the reforms.
The Senior Minister considered the visit as a positive effort in building mutual relations with Japan. He called for more strengthening of the relationship between the two countries for economic growth and development.