File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG  - The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) said on Friday it had signed memorandums of understanding on investment with Japan’s three largest banks and the country's export credit agency Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) on the side lines of the Tokyo International Conference of Africa’s Development (TICAD).

During the 7th edition of TICAD held on August 28-30 in Yokohama, ATI and NEXI also announced the launch of a Japan desk to be based in ATI’s Nairobi, Kenya headquarters and provide tailored risk-mitigation support to companies and investors from the Asian country.

ATI has a current pipeline of over US$1 billion worth of transactions from Japanese banks.

ATI said the agreements signed with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Mizuho Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group "signal to the world that Japan views Africa as a strategic investment destination, which will also provide an opportunity for Japanese companies and investors to more effectively capitalize on the current opportunities in the fastest growing continent in the world".

In the last three years, ATI has provided insurance to protect some of Japan’s largest lenders against the risk of sovereign default on transactions that have collectively brought close to US$1 billion to the continent.

Some of this financing has helped countries re-profile short-term and often pricey local currency debt into longer-term and more affordable structures.  ATI said it expected to support more Japanese exporters and banks in deals across Africa in coming years.

"Our participation at TICAD7 has yielded great results," acting CEO John Lentaigne said.

"We’re excited about the prospect of providing greater levels of risk mitigation to Japanese companies and financiers, which we see as key to unlocking even more Japanese investments into Africa."

- African News Agency (ANA)