With bilateral trade between India and Africa targeted to touch $90 bn by 2015,industry leaders and officials from 41 African countries would congregate next week in a bid to take the bilateral engagement between India and Africa to a new level.
India and Africa together accounts for a huge market of 2.2 billion people with a combined GDP of more than $3 trillion. India is Africa’s fourth-largest trading partner and a significant investor across the continent. Over the years the bilateral cooperation has diversified across several sectors such as agriculture,education,health,skill building and infrastructure.
At the 9th three-day CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership from March 17,the largest ever India-Africa business meet will have a total of 630 overseas delegates,including 39 Mps. Starting March 17 they will discuss 500 projects close to $70 billion. Cameroon will be the guest country and Ethiopia the focus country at the three-day event.
In recent years,Indias development partnership with Africa has expanded considerably both in geographical spread and sectoral coverage. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has set up Development Partnership Aministration (DPA) to bring under one umbrella the entire range of external developmental assistance and to manage more efficiently the formulation, appraisal,implementation and evaluation of projects.
“The Ministry is also exploring innovative models of partnership with Indian business and industry,so that we can combine development assistance with their commercial perspectives to create assets that would have a larger developmental impact in our partner countries,” senior MEA official explained.
Food security is a common concern of both India and Africa. Most parts of Africa are endowed with fertile lands and water resources. The challenge lies in harnessing these natural resources to usher in a Green Revolution across the continent.
“India is partnering many African countries in boosting their agricultural produce through watershed development,sharing of advanced farm technologies and capacity building measures,” a senior officials told FE.
Majority of African nations are exporters of raw materials and are giving lot of thrust on beneficiation in a bid to discourage exports of minerals and incentivize manufacturing. As African economies board a higher growth trajectory and focus upon manufacturing growth,physical infrastructure development will become a key growth driver and this is where the Indian companies see major investment opportunities in this sphere.
Ahead of the conclave,a senior CII officer told FE that,”Both sides are aware of the fact that simply boosting trade volumes is not enough. Both sides would have to broaden the trade basket even as India aims to step up trade with individual African economies.”
“The government has also extended substantial concessional lines of credit to Africa,which in turn has greatly contributed toward asset creation in Africa. More recently in 2011,prime minister Manmohan Singh had announced $5-billion worth lines of credit to help Africa achieve its development goals. An additional $700 million was also announced for purposes of establishing new institutions and training programmes in Africa in consultation with the African Union and its institutions.”
At the same time,Indian imports of oil from Africa are boosting bilateral trade volumes of Indias top 10 trading partners in Africa,seven export oil to India.
The African continent supplies around 20% of Indias fuel imports which can only increase going forward. Refined petroleum products are also contributing a growing share of Indias exports to Africa at 32.8% in 2010 from just 10% in 2000.
Besides oil,Africa is rich in gold,diamonds,platinum,copper,manganese and uranium. India’s diamond-cutting industry the world’s largest depends on rough diamonds from Africa,while uranium in Niger,Uganda and Tanzania is vital for India’s nuclear power industry.
In the realm of energy security,while Indian energy companies are actively engaged in exploring and developing hydrocarbon resources in Africa,there is a need to collectively step up the cooperation in the development of green energy,such as,solar,wind,geo-thermal,biomass,etc.