India & Africa continue to get closer for economic development: Suresh Prabhu

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Considering that both India and Africa share various social and economic development related concerns, the government of India is looking forward to working with Africa to promote industrialization, job creation, agriculture production, growth of small and medium enterprises, Union Railway Minister, Mr Suresh Prabhu said at an ASSOCHAM event.

Government of India is now committed to make sure that Africa becomes a close ally of India in terms of shifting the gear of developmental goals in the world,” said Mr Prabhu while inaugurating ‘India-Africa Business Champion Awards 2015,’ organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

He said that these goals can be achieved through government to government interaction, private sector participation, joint ventures between government-private players and in many other ways.

“We are looking forward to working with Africa in a very significant way because we feel we share lot of values, lot of concerns and there is a lot of priority as far as development is concerned,” said Mr Prabhu.

“Our development priorities, our concerns as far as national resource management is concerned, as far as industrialisation is concerned, as far as increasing the value of human capital is concerned are more or less converging with that of Africa,” added the minister.

“We realise that both these geographies are really going to be fastest growing economies of the world, India is already the fastest and Africa being at a lower base rate can grow even faster in next few years’ time,” further said Mr Prabhu.

He also released an ASSOCHAM-TARI (Thought Arbitrage Research Institute) joint study titled, ‘India-Africa Trade: Continuous sunshine.’

Highlighting that true potential of India-Africa economic alliance is grossly under-utilised, the ASSOCHAM-TARI study has noted that there is huge scope for Indian companies operating in banking, construction and infrastructure, consumer goods, telecom sectors.

“Indian government should immediately engage itself with all trade blocs and associations, including African Union, in the light of formation of Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and the proposed African Free Trade Zone,” suggested the ASSOCHAM-TARI study.

“Bilateral arrangements need to be explored for the same objective, wherever possible,” it added.

Framework of future unity between India and Africa is dependent on three pillars of partnership – food security, energy security and mutual developmental prosperity that requires cooperation along with trade agreements at bilateral and multi-lateral levels, said the study.

Most African countries present an excellent opportunity for India to export refined petroleum products. Besides South Africa can be a good market for medicine, automobiles and auto components; Namibia for gems and jewellery and floating structures and Nigeria for natural rubber products.

“There is a huge potential for trade with these countries, since the trade volumes with most of these countries are low,” noted the ASSOCHAM-TARI study.

The study has also recommended the government to initiate partnerships with African countries in agriculture sector whereby it can benefit from increased output while contributing positively to Africa in terms of technical assistance, skill building, research and development.

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