India to play 'catalytic role' in Africa's capacity building: Minister
New Delhi, March 18 : India is committed to Africa's socio-economic, technological and human resource development and partners the African governments in a consultative, participative and responsive manner based on Africa's own assessment of their needs, an Indian minister said here Monday.
In her address at the Inaugural Session of the 9th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership being held at the Taj Palace Hotel, Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs, said India will continue to play a "catalytic role" in Africa's capacity building initiatives.
She noted that the high-level African participation at the conclave was a clear recognition of the huge potentials of India-Africa economic and business ties. Seven heads of state or government, 42 senior ministers and nearly 900 officials and business delegates from Africa are taking part in the conclave in which 475 projects worth about $85 billion are being discussed.
India and Africa have witnessed a five-fold increase in their trade volume in the past seven years that now touches $65 billion and both sides are poised to scale it up further, she stated. Both are cooperating in technology transfer, economic cooperation and capacity building.
"In 2011-12, exports from Africa to India stood at $43 billion, and imports from India stood at $23 billion, with Africa's exports being double that of India," she noted.
The African continent, with its 54 countries, has been the second fastest growing region in the world in the past decade, posting seven percent GDP. It is set to grow at 5 percent average. From a collective GDP of $1.6 trillion in 2008, its GDP is set to grow to $2.6 billion by 2020, she pointed out.
India had extended 150 Lines of Credit worth $5.2 billion to African countries. Among the projects India is involved in Africa are a rural electrification plant at Burkina Faso, cassava plantation in Cameroon and a cement plant in Djibouti.
India has also been providing assistance to African countries under its Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme, which is a manifestation of South South cooperation, she emphasized.
Daniel Kablan Duncan, Prime Minister of Cote d'Ivoire, said in his address that roads and railroad development, mining, agro-processing, energy, irrigation, healthcare and ICT as the most promising areas of cooperation between India and Africa. He said that the Ivorian government is taking key steps to enhance the country's peace and security, national reconciliation and economic recovery, creating a highly favourable destination for global investors, especially from India.
Duncan added that Cote d'Ivoire is the gateway to western African markets, and is a member of the West African Economic & Monetary Union and ECOWAS. So, companies investing in Cote d'Ivoire will enjoy access to a much broader regional market. He also said that India will be a key partner for Cote d'Ivoire in its quest to become an emerging economy by 2020.
Gervais Rufyikiri, Second Vice President, Republic of Burundi, said in his address that the India-Africa partnership exemplifies all aspects of the Istanbul Action Program that supports the least developed economies to leverage the South-South Cooperation framework for their own economic development and to gain access to new technologies and capacity building support systems.
Focusing attention on Burundi's bilateral ties with India, Rufyikiri said his government has undertaken simplification of procedures to draw Indian investors to Burundi. He pointed out that Burundi has rapidly moved up the World Bank ranking of countries on the ease of doing business. He urged Indians to visit Burundi and experience the country's rich natural habitat.
Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, Vice President of Uganda, said Africa needs India's expertise for converting its natural resources into productive assets. He also underlined India's critical role in building Africa's human resources base, and in helping African industry move up the global value chain.
Adi Godrej, president, CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), identified five key steps to foster stronger India-Africa economic cooperation, namely, expand the bilateral trade basket, enhance regional diversification of the bilateral trade, promote investment-led trade, promote economic cooperation in the services sector, and fast-track bilateral cooperation in human resources development.