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21st century belongs to Asia and Africa: Indian Minster

Mar 10, 2014

Agriculture and food security are foremost among the priority areas for India-Africa partnerships, said Anand Sharma, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry.

New Delhi: India and Africa are taking their rightful places in the emerging world order. Stating this in his keynote address in the inaugural session of the three-day 10th CII-EXIM BANK Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership being organised in New Delhi, Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, said that the 21st century will be the century of India, Asia and Africa.

Sharma said the India-Africa partnership is “distinct and different”, exemplifying the spirit of South-South Cooperation. He urged the present generation to revisit the pages of history to remind itself of the greater goals that drive the India-Africa partnership. India has committed over $10 billion to Africa for infrastructural and development projects since the holding of the first and second India Africa Forum Summit meetings in 2008 and 2011, and is partnering in establishing 70 pan-African and regional institutions across Africa.

Sharma cited agriculture and food security, healthcare and life sciences, infrastructure, energy and energy security, mining, and SME development as the priority areas for India-Africa partnerships. He made a special mention of the Buyers Credit that was introduced by his ministry for supporting Indian companies’ participation in African infrastructure projects.

Speaking about India’s technological progress, Sharma said that India is now a global leader in ‘frugal innovation’ and a major R&D hub for Fortune 500 companies.

Referring to India’s key contributions to Africa’s healthcare sector, he said that India will stay committed to making available new generation life science products to Africa. India is also a world leader in the production of finished generics.

Dr Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, Prime Minster of The Kingdom of Lesotho, said that India’s development model is most appropriate to African economies. He cited education and training, science and technology, infrastructure development, and agriculture and food security as areas that offer immense scope for India-Africa partnerships.

Thabane said that while the concessional lines of credit extended by the Government of India to Africa have played a key role in Africa’s development, there is a need for innovative ways to fully utilise the lines of credit to meet Africa’s future development needs.

Thabane also said the lines of credit should be structured according to the development stage of each recipient country, and he urged India to increase the grant element and extend the repayment period.

Arancha Gonzales, Executive Director, International Trade Centre, said in her address that in the emerging global order, countries need to focus on private sector development and comparative advantage as transformative tools.

Gonzales urged India and Africa to direct sharper focus on SME development and cooperation in the broader framework of India-Africa cooperation. She said that Africa’s SME sector could leverage the experiences of India’s SME development in the services sector. Citing this, she said the success of ‘Incredible India!’ promotion could inspire an ‘Amazing Africa’ initiative.

Yaduvendra Mathur, Chairman & Managing Director, Export-Import Bank of India, said, that India’s role in Africa’s capacity building will increasingly focus on areas like agriculture, private sector development, infrastructure development and manufacturing growth.

Mathur said that about $5 billion worth of projects have been planned under the Buyers Credit that was introduced by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India. He also said that EXIM Bank of India is in dialogue with the African Development Bank for the sharing of project development expertise.

Noel Tata, Chairman, CII Africa Committee and Managing Director, Tata International Ltd, said, the committee is focused on promoting bilateral partnerships in areas such as agriculture, pharma and healthcare, mining, power and energy, transportation, SME development and skill development.

Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, said in his opening remarks that over the last nine editions of the Conclave 985 projects worth $172 billion have been discussed. As many as 4,684 delegates from Africa and 4,292 delegates from India have participated in the nine previous editions.

At the session, a CII-McKinsey Report on “Joining hands to unlock Africa’s potential – A new Indian industry-led approach to Africa” and an EXIM Bank of India report on ‘Enhancing India’s trade with SADC’ were released.

Three MoU were also signed at the end of the session, between International Trade Centre and CII; International Trade Centre and UK Department for International Development; and EXIM Bank and Government of Republic of Congo.

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