Nairobi — Mozambique and Japan on Friday expressed their willingness to step up cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the economic sphere.
This desire was expressed in a meeting in Nairobi between Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Both men are in Nairobi to attend the sixth edition of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), which began on Saturday.
During their meeting, Nyusi took the opportunity to congratulate the Japanese Prime Minister on his re-election, hoping that this could accelerate the progress of Japanese projects in Mozambique.
In a brief statement, Abe, who was accompanied by Japanese businessmen with investments in Mozambique, stressed his desire for still closer relations with Mozambique.
Speaking to reporters shortly after the meeting, Mozambican Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi said that Nyusi and Abe had reviewed the cooperation between the two countries. This cooperation has a social component, and so a sum of 2.7 million US dollars from Japan was announced to support food security in Mozambique.
“These are important signs at a time when the country needs help more than ever”, added Baloi. Tens of thousands of Mozambicans are in need of food aid, due to the severe drought which struck southern Africa this year.
The question of Mozambique's foreign debt was also addressed at the meeting, Baloi said, “including its implications, and the path forward that the country is following. Thus Japan was informed at first hand”.
The foreign debt increased drastically, because of government guaranteed loans of over two billion dollars contracted in 2013-14, under the government of Nyusi's predecessor, Armando Guebuza.
Two of these loans, to the quasi-public companies Proindicus and Mozambique Asset Management (MAM), were not disclosed, either to the Mozambican public, or to key foreign partners, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As a result, when the loans became public knowledge in April, the IMF, the World Bank and other partners cut off financial assistance to Mozambique, and demanded an independent international audit of the loans.