Jan 14 - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is spending the week in Africa. Japanese business interests in the continent are dwarfed by China's but as Sonia Legg reports both regions hope to benefit from each other.
Toyota in South Africa, Hitachi in Zambia - just two Japanese companies already investing in Africa. There are many others too but compared to China, Japan is in the slow lane when it comes to doing business there. Japan's Prime Minister is keen to change that. A new push began last year and during this year's week-long visit Shinzo Abe is expected to pledge more than $14 billion in aid and trade deals. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER, SHINZO ABE, SAYING: "Today, I have some thing to share with you. Japan is providing Yen loans to foster the private sector in Africa." But even the location of this key speech in Ethiopia highlighted China's supremacy. The $200m headquarters of the African Union was funded by the Chinese as a gift. It's a similar story across the continent. Chinese trade with Africa was $180 billion in 2012 compared to $25 billion between Africa and Japan. The year before China's direct investments were almost seven times higher than Japan's. ($460 million in 2011, compared with $3.17 billion) Many hope Abe's push - along with similar ones by India, Brazil, South Korea and Turkey - will help redress the balance in Africa. There are fears China's growing influence echoes the European colonialists of a century ago.