Japan takes on China with a planned $20 billion investment in Africa

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends the TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) conference in August 28, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.

(CNN)Japan's private sector will invest $20 billion over three years in Africa, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised Wednesday.

Abe, who was addressing African leaders gathered at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama, said Japan is interested in infrastructure and human development on the continent.
"I make this pledge to you: The government of Japan will put forth every possible effort so that the power of Japanese private investment, of $20 billion in three years, should in the years to come be surpassed anew from one day to the next," he said in his opening speech at TICAD.
    "We will do whatever it takes to assist the advancement of Japanese companies into Africa," he added.
    Japan also seeks to train 3,000 people over a period of six years under a human resource development program for Africa so there will be more people from the continent who can contribute to promoting Japan-Africa business relations.

    Why Africa?

    Japan is not new to investment in Africa. For more than 30 years, the country has focused its efforts on providing economic aid to African countries.
    In April, it released $1.5 million to fund community stabilization activities in Nigeria's war-torn northeast.
    And in Kenya, through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects, it provides funding for various skill acquisition and training centers across the country.
    Now, it wants a partnership that involves more than just aid -- adding infrastructure and human resource development.
    At the 2016 TICAD conference held in Kenya, Abe mentioned that Japan wanted African countries to view it as a partner rather than just a donor.
    Jonathan Berkshire Miller, a senior fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs, says Japan is increasing its investment in the continent because it wants a more holistic alliance that will creat