There are several sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing where the strengths of India and Africa are complimentary and could produce a strong partnership in the future, opined by the Indian Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj.
The minister was speaking on the occasion of the India – Africa Business Forum, organised by CII in association with the Ministry of External Affairs, Assocham, FICCI and PHD Chamber.
According to the Minister, Indian companies had already invested over US$ 32 billion in Africa and total bilateral trade between India and Africa amounted to around US$ 72 billion. She pointed out that India was one of the first countries to extend the Duty Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) scheme to Africa.
She called upon businesses from both sides to work together and take advantage of the Make in India scheme in India. She also called upon business from both sides to organise road shows and exhibitions in each countries to promote awareness of each-others capabilities.
In his address, Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission said that India could work with Africa to promote manufacturing and help African companies move up the value chain. It is with this in mind that he called for greater investment from India. He also felt that steps needed to be taken to facilitate business to operate in each-others countries as well as to provide greater access to finance to facilitate this process.
Addressing the Forum, Dr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA highlighted that India and Africa have strong bonds which has now become mulit-layered and is based on South – South Solidarity.
Dr. Lopes pointed out that all this created a solid foundation to build on their partnership. One area, he felt, that the two countries could work together was the agriculture sector. He said that India could strengthen collaboration with Africa in terms of capacity building, innovative agricultural technologies and inputs and agro-processing.
Anil K Agrawal, past president, Assocham said that the two countries could cooperate in areas such as oil and gas, agriculture, energy, petroleum, development of smart grids, food processing, IT, telecom, low-cost housing, diagnostics and healthcare and renewable energy among a whole host of other areas.
Addressing the gathering, Dr. Jyotsna Suri, president, FICCI opined that Indian industry could help African countries in the area of manufacturing and address their need for value addition to their natural resources. She also felt that the agriculture sector presented a major opportunity for the two economies to work together. Other areas for collaboration, in her view included tourism and healthcare.
Earlier, welcoming the participants, Sumit Mazumder, president, CII highlighted that Africa is an ideal base for those companies that are aiming to globalise their operations. Indian companies could tap into an estimated US$150 billion worth of business opportunities in Africa in the period up to year 2025.