Indian projects are operating in 48 of the 54 African countries

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) offers immense opportunities for Indian businesses to partner with African counterparts to deepen their integration, said Ministry of External Affairs Secretary Economic Relations Rahul Chhabra.

Addressing the inaugural programme of Namaskar Africa organized by FICCI on Monday, he said that Indian companies must take advantage of the enormous change that is taking place in Africa.

“We do not have a donor-recipient relationship with Africa but consider our partner countries as development partners,” he said. “Out of 54 African countries we have Indian projects operating in 48 African countries with 75 projects worth USD 13 billion. This is the size of our commitment to the African Continent,” he added.

He further stated that many of the iconic projects in Africa, like the Parliament in the Gambia and the Presidential Palace of Ghana, are constructed by Indian companies. “One-third of the power supply in Sudan and one-fourth of the power supply in Uganda comes from Indian power plants set up by Indian lines of credit,” said Chhabra.

Elaborating on strengthening the manufacturing capabilities in Africa, he said that the first cement plant in Djibouti, the first milk processing plant in Mauritania and the first sugar plant in Ghana are the first steps towards developing a stronger partnership in the manufacturing sector by plants set up by Indian lines of credit.

“We want to be forward-looking and forward-thinking to see how the partner countries can benefit from our collaborations,” said the MEA Secretary.

He stressed the fact that India has provided medical assistance to over 25 African countries during the pandemic with the Vande Bharat flights carrying African patients to India even during the lockdown.

“Five air transport bubble arrangements are already in operation in Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda to maintain air connectivity so that those activities keep continuing,” he said.

“Our Vaccine supplies have gone out to maximum African countries and many more are committed,” he said.

He said that India is working with the partners and the supply of vaccines to other African countries will be rolled out shortly. “We have kept our resources open and are waiting for approval from partner countries for a seamless movement of vaccine supplies,” he further added.

Joint Secretary, FT-AFRICA, Department of Commerce Srikar Reddy stated that India and Africa are connected by a historical association that has blossomed into a multifaced partnership with an emphasis on economic cooperation and human resource development. He further added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made Africa a priority for India’s foreign and economic policy.

The Dean of the African Group of Heads of Missions in India and Ambassador of South Sudan Daniel Peter Othol said the relationship between India and Africa must be augmented to the level that will benefit Africa. He further said that the African economy has melted due to the pandemic and Africa is looking at the Indian subcontinent for assistance.

“We want India to mechanize the African agriculture, to build our social and physical infrastructure and the health and educational needs especially during the era of COVID-19. There is an urgent need to boost the immunity of the population of Africa, therefore Africa is looking at India for vaccines,” he said.