The agreement, which was signed during a conference last week, is between Invest SA and Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), where South Africa will set up a Japan-specific desk and vice versa, SABC News reported.
South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, said: “We both agreed that there will be a Japan-focus desk on our side, and a South Africa-focused desk on their side, which is an indication that we are moving further forward in our relations.”
With South Africa shifting towards a cleaner and sustainable energy mix, it is looking to develop a partnership where it can employ Japan’s hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Japan invests in skills development
In addition, Japan has committed to to take 40 South African University students, double its previous figure, to attend training programmes in Japan.
SABC News reported that “South Africa is Japan’s largest trading partner in Africa. Africa’s second largest economy accounts for a third of all Japanese exports to the continent. During the just concluded TICAD VI summit, the two countries sought to further trade relations between them.”
In an earlier report, Linda Etim, head of African Affairs for the US Agency for International Development, commented: “Japan is already a strong partner in Africa as evidenced by the TICAD Summit and I am certain this partnership will advance our common commitment to electrifying the continent.”
Etim said this after a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between the US and Japanese governments was concluded in support of the Power Africa initiative, which is aimed at increasing electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa.
Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor said: “This is a programme which young graduates are able to go to Japan universities, and they spend time linked to universities doing some graduate work, but also working in the Japanese enterprise in Japan, we have been sending a small number of students, but we are not raising the number because we believe it is an extremely beneficial programme.”
Deputy Minister International Relations and Cooperation, Nomaindia Mfeketo, commented: “They were talking about qualitative partnership, where you see that it is not 10% for Africa and 90% for Japan.”
Extending investment opportunities
The Pacific Ocean island is planning to invest in East Africa’s geothermal potential, having identified Kenya and Ethiopia as potential commercial areas.
Africa has only developed 5% of this clean power fuel, which according to the Nikkei Asian Review is due to the high associated costs of drilling down to heat reservoirs and building the plants themselves.
According to media, those Japanese players with a vested interest in the sector, are seeking to boost the existing 600,000kW of geothermal capacity to more than 1 million kilowatts in the east African region.