African countries can develop through micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and India is ready to partner with Africa for this initiative, diplomat Deepak Vohra said while addressing foreign delegates and representatives of MSMEs at the inaugural ceremony of SVUM International Trade Show, 2020 in Rajkot on Tuesday.
The three-day trade show has been organised by Saurashtra Vepar Udyog Mahamandal (SVUM), a Rajkot-based industry chamber, with support from the Gujarat government. The partner country of the expo is the United Kingdom, while delegates from 17 countries are to visit the show, organisers said. Delegates from Iraq, Zambia, Gambia and Afghanistan were also present.
Vohra, who was the Indian ambassador to Sudan and is presently Special Adviser to the African nations of Lethoso and Guinea-Bissau, said that there were similarities between India and Africa as both had histories of being colonies of western empires. The British colonial rule destroyed the Indian economy, but it recovered because of its MSMEs and Africa can do the same, he said.
“In 1750, India and China accounted for two-thirds of global production and nine-tenths of global trade. When we became independent, my (India’s) contribution to global GDP was less than one per cent. Now, I am (India is) at eight per cent and major contribution is from MSMEs… When we took up the Clean India Mission, we built one toilet every two seconds. When we decided to take banking to people, we opened two bank accounts every second. Every 15 minutes, we are building one kilometre of national highway. All this has been done by people associated with MSMEs… India is your friend. India is your partner,” Vohra said, adding that education, economic strength and women empowerment are three essential pillars of development.
The former ambassador further said, “…All across Africa, the former Soviet Union, Latin America where I have travelled, I have seen dead bodies of big factories, carcasses. They were unable to sustain. The only thing I have seen surviving is MSMEs because while robots can take over manufacturing in big industries, in MSMEs, it would be human labour… We in the Niti Aayog don’t see MSMEs dying in the distant future…,” said Vohra.
Peter Cook, British Deputy High Commissioner in Ahmedabad, said the UK was looking for partnerships with MSMEs in Saurashtra and Gujarat in general. “According to a study by Oxford Economics, Rajkot is the seventh fastest growing city in the world… We are here to develop a stronger friendship…,” said Cook.
Rajkot is known for its MSMEs, including foundry and casting, auto-parts manufacturing, diesel engines, engineering goods and agricultural equipment. Vohra said that 6.5 crore MSMEs have become an important cog in the wheel of the Indian economy today, as they account for one-third of the Indian GDP. It will go up to 50 per cent when India becomes a 12-trillion USD economy, he added.
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