India is committed to work with Africa in areas prioritised by African countries: Suresh Prabhu
India is committed to partner Africa in the areas prioritised by the African countries in the spirit of ‘Partners in Progress’.
This was stated by Mr Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Government of India at the Inaugural Session of the 14th edition of the CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Partnership.
The 3-day Conclave was organised with the support of the Exim Bank of India and the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The Minister added that even as India gears up to become a $5 trillion economy within the next few years, and a $10 trillion economy thereafter, the country endeavours to help Africa sustain its own economic growth momentum.
According to the Minister, India received record FDI inflows in the last fiscal, and Indian outbound investment flows are also increasing. Africa would be the preferred destination for Indian investments, Mr Prabhu said. He pointed out that while physical connectivity between the two regions is being strengthened, the opportunity to expand digital connectivity between India and Africa could obviate the need for widespread and capital-intense physical infrastructure connectivity.
Keeping in view Africa’s central location on the global map, India could help establish strong logistics linkages in the region, Mr Prabhu said. He also highlighted the opportunities for deeper India-Africa bilateral cooperation and partnerships in agriculture and food processing, power projects, new and renewal energy development, skills development, among others. He added that Indian industry will extend all support to African countries to process natural resources in Africa itself.
Mr Prabhu said that India and Africa should take firm steps to enter into a free trade agreement or a preferential trade agreement.
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President, Republic of Ghana, said that both India and Ghana were driven by common developmental challenges in an increasingly globalised world. He added that Ghana has undertaken several economic reforms in the areas of ease of doing business and promoting private investments to achieve stability at the macro-economic level. Spelling out the priority areas of Ghana’s economy he said that “trade and investment, investment in human capital and digitalisation hold the key”, adding that India’s expertise in ICT would be a great help for his country to achieve its goals.
Dr Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, Prime Minister of Guinea, in his remarks praised Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi for starting 18 new embassies in Africa, including Guinea. He said that India’s policies and special focus on Africa could find win-win solutions to the common challenges that both India and Africa are facing today. He cited India’s initiatives like Pan Africa Network among others which have benefitted the continent in the past few years.
He said that Africa offers huge opportunities for investments in the area of agriculture, infrastructure development, power and energy and road sectors, among others.
Mr Monyane Moleleki, Deputy Prime Minister, Kingdom of Lesotho, fondly recalled his term as the External Affairs Minister of Lesotho when he came to Delhi to establish his country’s Permanent High Commission. He congratulated India for making rapid development in the past one and a half decade. He also highlighted the need to have “win-win cooperation” in areas like agriculture, technology, energy and renewable energy sector.
Mr Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary, Government of India, in his address cited that the balance of trade is in favour of Africa. In 2017-18, India’s exports to Africa were valued at US$24 billion, whereas India’s imports from Africa were valued at US$38 billion. He said there is huge potential to expand India-Africa bilateral trade flow, toward which India should look to geographically diversify its trade ties with the African countries, as also diversify the bilateral trade basket.
Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, President, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said that Indian industry has a very positive outlook on investing in Africa. He referred to Indian investments in Africa’s oil & gas sector as a case in point, and added that there are significant opportunities for investing in Africa’s IT/ITeS, FMCG, e-commerce, agriculture, education, healthcare and media and entertainment sectors. He also cited how India’s capability to develop agricultural equipment for small farmers would be of the essence to Africa.
Mr David Rasquinha, Managing Director, EXIM Bank of India spoke about how the bank has served as an instrument of Government of India in taking forward India’s economic diplomacy outreach.
Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII in his opening remarks said that this year’s Conclave has drawn the participation of 500 delegates from 41 African countries, and an equal number of delegates from India. The Conclave has the presence of 3 Heads of State and Government from Africa as well as 33 ministers from different African countries.
India in Africa: developing trilateral partnerships
During the event, CII launched a report on India in Africa: developing trilateral partnerships. The report is a result of recent developments in India’s, as well as the world’s, approach to Africa.
The world is moving away from Africa as an aid-receiving continent, to a continent with pressing and real business opportunities. This is in large part due to the efforts of African countries as well, who have covered serious ground in creating a new image of change and embracing the future. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is a case in point.
The report identifies some partners who have already expressed their interest in this sort of arrangement and the potential models that could be adopted, building a business case for partnerships.