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India-Africa ties getting stronger with youth participation

The government’s efforts in forging closer ties with Africa by engaging the youth of both the regions in a big way and helping them harvest their ideas for business and social ventures is becoming a success story

Written by ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published: April 7, 2013 1:15:33 am

The government’s efforts in forging closer ties with Africa by engaging the youth of both the regions in a big way and helping them harvest their ideas for business and social ventures is becoming a success story.

Sponsored by the ministry of external affairs (MEA),a two-day India-Africa collaborative workshop which ended on Friday saw 72 students (36 Indians and 36 Africans from across multiple disciplines) debating and pitching their views on challenges and opportunities in areas like energy,environment,healthcare,education,culture,creative exchanges,tourism,governance,food and nutrition in their respective regions at the Young India Fellowship Campus here.

The initiative ‘India-Africa: A shared Future’ by the MEA’s public diplomacy division saw these 72 students divided into nine teams pitching for greater collaboration in identifying opportunity areas which are mutually beneficial for developing product and service systems through combined efforts of both India and African nations.

India-Africa team members travelled to 16 nations,including Ghana,Uganda,Kenya,South Africa,Eritrea,Ethiopia,Nigeria,DR Congo,Tanzania,Congo,Malawi and Gabon had participated in the programme.

“The interest in India and willingness to engage with us among young Africans has been phenomenal. Similarly,the youth across campuses in India are equally eager to engage with their African counterparts,” a co-sponsor from a public strategy firm TheIdeaWorks pointed out.

A total of 12 young entrepreneurs,six each from Africa and India were selected as Young Visionaries who earlier went through an intensive six-day entrepreneurship development programme at the Indian School of Business,Hyderabad in the last week of March. The aim of the programme was to equip them with skills to scale up their enterprises successfully replicate their success in other geographies in Africa and/or India; and identify and build on synergies to develop ideas for collaborative business ventures.

Addressing the valedictory session of the workshop last evening,Bharti Airtel MD Manoj Kohli said his company has invested $13 billion in Africa and plans to invest more. The company,he said,has already recruited about 7,000 employees in the continent and its network is penetrating into small towns and the countryside

Kohli said Airtel provides mobile communications services across 16 markets in Africa serving over 50 million customers. They are Burkina Faso,Chad,Democratic Republic of the Congo,Republic of the Congo,Gabon,Ghana,Kenya,Malawi,Madagascar,Niger,Nigeria,Seychelles,Sierra Leone,Tanzania,Uganda and Zambia.

The government increasingly views Africa as a fertile land for furthering India’s commercial interests there. The leadership of India and African nations have set a bilateral trade target of $100 billion by 2015. The UPA government has recently taken a decision to open dialogue with The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa members — the largest economic group in Africa

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