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Lusaka, Zambia: The Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe has appointed a new Special Representative to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

His Excellency Hidenobu Sobashima presented his Letter of Credence to Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya during a ceremony in Lusaka on Thursday 17 November 2016.

“I am determined to do my best to further develop the excellent working relationship existing between Japan and COMESA by advancing our cooperation in various fields with a view of achieving our common objective of having stable development in trade and investment in the region,” Ambassador Sobashima said.

He added that several Japanese companies have established offices in various African countries and are considering doing business with a regional economic perspective.

Secretary General Ngwenya welcomed the new Special Representative and assured him of full cooperation in the execution of his duties.

He took time to commend Prime Minister Abe for being the only Japanese Premier that has made more visits to Africa compared to his predecessors bringing with him a large contingent of businessmen from corporate Japan.

Mr Ngwenya added that fruits of those visits and the new policy and strategy have already started to show because Japanese companies have invested in some COMESA member States and this is expected to lead to job creation, transfer of managerial skills and technology and contribute to the realization of a single market in COMESA on the basis of trade and investment.

The Secretary General lauded Japan for the grants it has continued to provide for infrastructure projects such as ports construction, road upgrading and construction of bridges in the region.

“These are enablers to economic development,” Ngwenya added.

He however suggested that the region now needs public private partnerships for infrastructure development.

During the TIACD summit recently held in Kenya, the government of Japan committed US$30 billion in public and private support for infrastructure development, education and healthcare expansion on the African continent. This package will be spread over three years from this year 2016.

COMESA has an annual maintenance back log for existing infrastructure of about US$45 billion.