India builds capacity, expands reach in West Africa
Posted on Feb 16 2014 | IANS
By Francis Kokutse, Accra, Feb 16 : India's support to some West African countries - as part of its overall outreach to the growing potential of Africa - continue to grow despite some hiccups.
In Ghana, a USD 1.2-billion joint venture fertiliser project with India has been stalled following the failure of the China Development Bank to disburse a USD 3 billion-loan to establish a gas processing plant at Atuabo, near the country's oilfields in the western region. On July 6, 2010, India had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ghana for the establishment of the project.
Last year, a high-level Indian delegation, led by Secretary (Fertiliser) Sudhir Mital, visited Accra for further discussions on the project. But, with the gas project itself already behind schedule, the fertiliser project could not take off.
The delay in the gas project has also affected production of oil as the partners at the Jubilee Fields have announced that they have been forced to flare gas which was meant to be used at the gas processing plant because the facility is not ready. Currently, oil production is said to be hovering at about 120,000 barrels per day.
Notwithstanding the fertiliser hiccup, the Indian government continues to use the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) to build human capacity in Ghana. Under the current 2013-14 financial year, 200 slots have been allocated to Ghana which is an improvement on the previous year's 150.
Last year, three Ghanaian scientists were awarded CV Raman Research Fellowships and in the current year, 17 military personnel from the country have also been selected for training in India under the ITEC programme.
In addition to the government support from India, the country's private sector has also been very active. The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) says Indian companies have made investments in 602 projects worth USD 637.34 million between September 1994 and September 2013, making India the second largest foreign investor country in Ghana in terms of number of projects and the ninth according to value of foreign direct investment (FDI).
Ghana's northern neighbour, Burkina Faso, has also enjoyed substantial investment from India. The country's agriculture has seen an improvement following the completion of the Indian Farmers Project which the Indian high commission in Accra said was launched in 1999 and was completed in 2002.
Under the project, India supplied expert farmers to demonstrate to Burkinabe farmers Indian practices of rice growing, including the use of ergonomically designed hand tools and tractors, and to train local farmers in this technology.
In addition, the farmers were also educated on the use of related consumable inputs such as seeds, fertiliser and pesticides. Farm machinery, equipment, vehicles and other necessary support were donated to the Burkina Faso government after the completion of the project.
The country has also benefitted from a vocational training centre/incubation centre (VTC/IC), and a vocational training centre of Barefoot College. Last year, an Indian delegation visited the country for discussions and site inspection for the establishment of a soil and water tissue testing laboratory.
In the area of capacity building, for the 2012-13 financial year, Burkina Faso utilised 22 ITEC slots out of the allotted 45 ITEC slots. The country has been allotted 38 ITEC slots for the 2013-14 financial year. At the same time, six Burkinabe scientists were awarded CV Raman Fellowships for carrying out research activities in India between June and December 2013.
In spite of the growing relationship between India and Burkina Faso, bilateral trade has not shown any appreciable growth. The Indian high commission in Accra said available statistics show that total bilateral trade between the two countries stood at USD 103.21 million in 2011-12. This fell to USD 100.76 in the 2012-13 financial year.
Export from India stood at USD 86.10 million and import from Burkina Faso at USD 14.66 million. For April-September in 2013-14, bilateral trade between the two countries stood at USD 59.17 million.
In the case of Sierra Leone, the high commission said, total bilateral trade between the two countries stood at USD 91.03 million during 2011-12 and USD 190.3 million in 2012-13. India's export to Sierra Leone was USD 184.23 million as against an import figure of USD 5.80 million in 2012-13.
In April-September 2013-14, bilateral trade stood at USD 60.82 million.
India has extended concessional loans through lines of credit (LoCs) worth USD 99.84 million for various projects in the country.
The country utilised 45 slots on the ITEC programme during FY 2012-13. This year, it has been allotted 50 ITEC slots.
(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at [email protected])