India & Africa Set To Foster USD 70 Billion Bilateral Trade, Say Experts
| Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief, IOP, Kolkata - 27 Oct 2019
  1. MIICCIA’s President Amb Anil Trigunayat highlighted India’s “umbilical connection” with Africa
  2. Both countries have a mutual interest to fight terrorism
  3. Africa, endowed with immense natural resources, is slated to be the biggest market in the next 2-3 decades
  4. Jenfan Muswere, Deputy Minister of ICT, Zimbabwe said that bilateral trade is expected to reach USD 150 billion by 2020-21
  5. Amb P. Harish, Addl. Secy (ED & States), MEA exhorted the African Heads of Mission to take up the International Solar Alliance Agreement
  6. Emphasis should be given to agriculture and drinking water, apart from building connectivity by air & sea: Mohamed Maliki
  7. With an emerging number of seaports in the region, 80% of India’s requirement is met by this region: Amb Dr. B. Bala Bhaskar
  8. Deepali Agarwal, GM EXIM Bank said that India’s exports of goods to Africa have risen at an AAGR of 10% from 2009 to 2018

By Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief (Kolkata), IOP

Kolkata/New Delhi, Oct 26, 2019: Taking forward the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision and focus on robust engagement with the African counties, the Millennial India International Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture (MIICCIA) hosted a Business Meet titled “India & Africa: Partners in Growth, Prosperity and Shared Destiny” on Friday, October 18, 2019 at Hotel Royal Plaza, Ashoka Road, New Delhi. 

MIICCIA’s President Amb Anil Trigunayat highlighted India’s “umbilical connection” with Africa. Since the past 5 years, Prime Minister Modi, the President, Vice President and Ministers of India have crisscrossed all the African countries engaging with them in terms of India’s strategic importance of the continent. Further, both countries have mutual interest to fight terrorism.

India plans to maintain its unique approach of “Share and Care” as Africans themselves are focus on “Trade not Aid” and strengthen the intra-African connectivity through the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Agreement). Africa, endowed with immense natural resources, is slated to be the biggest market with the largest youth population in next 2-3 decades. India and the continent together can foster bilateral trade beyond USD 70 billion, according to experts. Amb Trigunayat mentioned the example of Rwanda where medicines recently started being delivered by drones in far flung areas.

Chief Guest Jenfan Muswere, Deputy Minister of Information & Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services of the Republic of Zimbabwe pointed how India has always been a partner in Africa’s political and economic emancipation with bilateral trade expected to reach USD 150 billion by 2020-21. The Minister felt that the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) presents great opportunity for India to channel its technological expertise and the region has the capacity to absorb India’s modernized equipment. Profitable Indian investments should aim for IT, Pharmaceuticals, Mining, Power, Water, Infrastructure, SMEs and Skill Development. Zimbabwe has already extended visa-on-arrival facility to all Indian nationals.

Guest of Honour Amb P. Harish, Additional Secretary (ED & States), Ministry of External Affairs hit the point of India’s engagement with Africa on the basis of equality and transparency, and emphasized on the need of connectivity, trade & investment, capacity building and skill enhancement. He added that India was progressing rapidly in the field of renewable energy, and exhorted the African Heads of Mission to take up the International Solar Alliance Agreement with their governments for urgent ratification of the agreement by their respective countries. Noting that India’s second-hand automobile industry has matured enough to accommodate digital platform, he said that Africa, particularly the SADC region has a thriving market for second-hand cars which are imported from other  parts of the world.

Mohamed Maliki, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco highlighted the social sectors including education in terms of partnership. India’s high standards in education could be shared with African countries by establishing institutions in the continent for local training with a global motive. More emphasis should also be provided to agriculture and drinking water, apart from building connectivity by air and sea.

Ambassador Dr. B. Bala Bhaskar, Joint Secretary (West Asia & North Africa), Ministry of External Affairs noted an emerging shift of strategic importance from the Gulf to the West & North African region. “With an emerging number of sea ports in the region including Somalia, abundancy of rock phosphate, 80% of India’s requirement is met by this region. Further, the region adds to 18% of India’s energy sector needs,” he noted. Amb Bhaskar also said that cooperation in agro & defence equipments is a promising area.

Jainaba Jagne, High Commissioner of the Republic of Gambia referred to the recent visit of India’s President Kovind, Union Ministers and several senior government officials to Gambia during the last year and a half. 

Michael A. N. N. Oquaye Esq, High Commissioner of the Republic of Ghana felt that contrary to general perception, it is perhaps unwise to club all African countries as a single entity. “There are 54 countries and each one needs to be dealt with separately as each one’s need and capability is different,” he said.

Amb R. Ravindra, Joint Secretary (Central & West Africa), Ministry of External Affairs noted that of late there is a discernible heightened political engagement with African countries over the last few years. Very recently India’s Vice President Venkaiah Naidu visited Sierra Leone and Comoros. Amb Ravindra stressed the need to remove trade barriers by African governments.

Deepali Agarwal, General Manager, EXIM Bank said that India’s exports of goods to Africa have risen at an AAGR of 10% from 2009 to 2018. Exports of pharmaceutical products in 2019 were almost 20% of Africa’s global imports. The period b/w 2009-2018 saw a total of 369 Indian FDI projects being recorded with a total investment of USD 32.69 billion of which Mozambique was the largest recipient.

Agarwal said, “India has been pro-actively engaging with Africa which is evident from duty free tariff preference (DETP-LDC) for LDCs, Pan-African e-Network succeeded by e-VidyaBharati and e- AarogyaBharati (e-EBAB network project) and India-Africa Forum Summits.”

Kumar Sumit Saurav, AGM of Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) said they have already extended export credit guarantee of US$ 46 billion to 42,000 exporters in 54 countries in Africa under their liberalized underwriting policy. The 5 largest beneficiaries are South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Sanjay Singal, Senior Executive Director, WAPCOS Ltd. said the company has successfully executed 190 projects in diverse social sectors at a total cost of USD 9.43 billion throughout Africa.

Ernest Rwamucyo, High Commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda noted that many countries including Rwanda have extended visa-on-arrival to Indian nationals, and work permits are issued more easily. India’s technologies are adaptable and transferable which make them most suitable for Africa.

Gabriel P. Sinimbo, High Commissioner of the Republic of Namibia fondly recalled India’s contribution to Namibia’s freedom struggle. He added that India’s vision of engagement as equal partners and shared destiny is the ideal model for Africa. In his brief statement, the High Commissioner requested for more partnership in manufacturing and processing for local produce for value addition.

A significant number of Ambassadors & Trade Commissioners from other African countries also attended the business meet and interacted with representatives from Indian businesses and industries. The Event was part of a series of programme titled “Ambassadors Speak”. The first was “Exploring Latin American Business Opportunities – Prospects & Potentials, followed by “India – ASEAN: Connecting for Business”, and the third one “India – Central Asia and beyond towards Growth & Prosperity”. After the present event, the next in the series takes a turn to the Arab world.

Photo Courtesy: MIICCIA

[DIDHITI GHOSH is an India Columnist at La Agencia Mundial de Prensa, USA; Bureau Chief of Indian Observer Post based in Kolkata & Conference Interpreter (Spanish-English-Bengali). E-mail: didhiti.24@gmail.com | LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/2H6gNAv].

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