New Delhi: Technology, investments and training form the core of India-Africa partnership. India has offered its expertise and resources in these areas at the pan-Africa, regional and bilateral levels with great success.
Stating this in her special address at the special inaugural plenary session titled ‘India – Africa: Partners in Progress’, at the three-day 8th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership being held in New Delhi, Mrs Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India, said that India’s efforts to set up 32 capacity building institutions at the regional level and 40 such institutions at the bilateral level will support Africa’s drive to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and also strengthen its human resources base.
Mrs Kaur said that Government of India’s concessional lines of credit to different African states have catalysed infrastructure development and capacity building initiatives in the region, besides paving the way for private investments in the recipient economies. The minister said the 35% increase in India-Africa bilateral trade flows in 2011-12 over the previous year augurs well for the bilateral cooperation and partnerships.
Mrs Kaur also said that the recent launch of the India-Africa Business Council, the 2nd India-Africa Trade Ministers Meet, and numerous workshops held for the training of African people will go a long way toward strengthening the African business drive to move up the global value chain. Value addition is critical to African industry’s global competitiveness.
Earlier, Mr Faustin Archangel Touadera, Prime of Central African Republic, said in his address that his country was honoured to be the Guest Country at the Conclave. “A new eastern wind is blowing over our continent,” he said to illustrate India’s growing role in Africa. Mr Touadera said that the bilateral ties with India need to be revitalised through greater investment flows, and technology sharing.
Mr Touadera said that Indian companies could play a vital role in tapping Central African Republic’s vastly untapped hydro resources, and mineral and agriculture resources. Positioned in the “heart of Africa”, this country could also serve as a gateway to regional markets, he said. Central African Republic has some 470 minerals. Transportation infrastructure development and telecom were cited as other areas where Indian cooperation and partnership could make a difference to Central African Republic.
Mr Touadera acknowledged the benefits that the Government of India concessional line of credit (LoC) has delivered to his country. At the Conclave, EXIM Bank of India and the Government of Central African Republic signed an agreement for a new LoC valued at around $60 million. The LoC will be directed for projects in agriculture and mining sectors.
Mr TCA Ranganathan, CMD, EXIM Bank of India, said that even as Indian companies are increasing their footprint in African markets, Indian industry would do well to strengthen the ‘Brand India’ presence in Africa.
He observed that while Indian exports of machinery items, electrical items and transport equipment to Africa have grown, their share of Africa’s total imports of these items is very small. “Indian companies have not focused enough on the African markets,” he said.
Given that Africa needs an estimated $93 billion a year for infrastructure development, and faces a large funding gap, opportunities are aplenty for Indian infrastructure companies, said Mr Ranganathan.
Mr Ranganathan also said that Indian banks could offer training support to African banks and financial institutions in diverse streams by leveraging their own experience and institutional base.
Mr Syamal Gupta, Chairman, CII Africa Committee said in his opening remarks that India’s economic growth and Africa’s economic resurgence have created new possibilities for partnership.