India committed to make Africa close ally: Prabhu

Indo AfricaNew Delhi:(IANS) With both India and African countries sharing various social and economic development related concerns, the Indian government looks forward to working with them to promote industrialisation, job creation, agriculture production, and growth of small and medium enterprises, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Monday.

“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 Prabhu while inaugurating the India-Africa Business Champion Awards  2015, organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assochamn).

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

“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,” he added.

“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,” said the minister.

Prabhu 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 was grossly under-utilised, the study notes the huge scope for Indian companies operating in banking, construction and  infrastructure, consumer goods, and 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,” it suggests.

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

The framework of future unity between India and Africa was 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, according to the study. 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, it stated.

“There is a huge potential for trade with these countries, since the trade volumes with most of these countries are low,” noted the study, which also recommends that the Indian government 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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