Republic of Congo, Uganda call for greater investments by Indian industry
Pointing out that the Indian companies investing in the Republic of Congo will gain access to a larger regional market in Africa, Congolese Industry Minister Isidore Mvouba said the Indian private sector could play a key part in the African country's march to become an emerging economy by year 2025.
Addressing the plenary session on 'Industrialisation in Africa: Role of Indian Private Sector' on the second day of the three-day 10th CII-EXIM BANK Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership being organised in New Delhi, Mvouba said that Government of India and Indian industry have already participated in his country's rural electrification, urban transportation, and food quality control projects and in industries like cement and pharmaceuticals.
He said that Indian companies could partner the Republic of Congo government in converting the country's comparative advantage in different sectors into competitive strengths. He also highlighted agriculture and agro-processing, mining, oil, building and construction, tourism, hotels, and financial services as areas where Indian investments could make a big difference.
Mvouba said that the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, will make a state visit to India later this year. Republic of Congo is the 'Focus Country' at the Conclave.
Maria Kiwanuka, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Uganda, said the key challenge for India and Africa lies in leveraging the learning from the past to engage in value-added activities.
Kiwanuka said that Uganda enjoys a stable political and macro-economic environment that is extremely conducive for investments.
She pointed out that Uganda has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world in the last 20 years, added that the country has made significant oil discoveries and has huge reserves of non-oil minerals like cobalt, uranium, graphite, etc.
Kiwanuka said the Ugandan government is focused on using the proceeds from the oil industry to finance the country's infrastructure development. She added that the country seeks Indian expertise and investments to convert the "black gold lying in the sub-soil into green gold".
She also said that Indian private sector could play a catalytic role in Uganda's agriculture sector and agri-business industry.
Manoj Kohli, Managing Director, Bharti Enterprises, cited three key challenges that meet Indian investors in India, namely, physical infrastructure bottlenecks, local currency volatility, and shortage of skilled manpower.
He said that companies that efficiently deal with these challenges have immense business opportunities in Africa.
Kenichi Ayukawa, Managing Director and CEO, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, said in his address that India has the capability to offer low-cost transport mobility solutions to Africa. He pointed out that the passenger car manufacturing industry contributes to the growth of other sectors like insurance.
Referring to Indian passenger vehicle exports to Africa, Ayukawa expressed hope that African countries will offer a level playing field to Indian exports. Currently, Indian auto exporting firms encounter high and differential duty rates in Africa.
He urged Africa to promote the market for new cars and rely less on used car imports.
Sanjay Kirloskar, Chairman & Managing Director, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd, said that Indian companies operating in Africa would do well to engage in the training of local human resources.
A trained local workforce is key to Africa's sustained industrialization. He also pointed out that Indian AAA technologies have great relevance in Africa's industrial sector.
Mr Rajat Gupta, Director, McKinsey & Co, while sharing the highlights of the CII-McKinsey Report on 'Joining hands to unlock Africa's potential - A new Indian industry-led approach to Africa', said that the Indian private sector will profit from adopting a solutions partner approach in Africa.
Stating that in the coming years Africa will become the second fastest growing region in the world after emerging Asia, Gupta said that Indian companies could focus on new opportunities in the top 30 cities in Africa. Africa could also be a base for Indian companies that are globalising their operations.
Indian investments account for 6.5% of total FDI inflows into Africa, and India-Africa bilateral trade accounts for 6% of Africa's total trade. Gupta said that Indian companies could tap estimated $150 billion worth of business opportunities in Africa by year 2025.
The session was moderated by Noel N Tata, Chairman, CII Africa Committee and Managing Director, Tata International Ltd.
(Posted on 11-03-2014)