Building stronger ties and fostering growth: The development partnership between India and Africa
Development projects span across sectors like infrastructure, technology, and renewable energy
The recent 18th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Growth Partnership witnessed a shift in focus from project partnership to growth partnership, emphasizing the theme "Creating Shared Futures."
In his inaugural address on June 14, 2023, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar highlighted the longstanding trade, economic, and people-to-people ties between India and Africa. “India believes in forging development partnership with Africa that is based on needs and priorities of partner countries,” he pointed out, highlighting the collective productivity of a collaboration such as this one.
EAM Jaishankar emphasized India's commitment to forging a development partnership with Africa based on the needs and priorities of its partners. Here are some key points from his address:
India has extended concessional loans of over US$ 12.37 billion to Africa, with 197 completed projects, 65 under execution, and 81 at the pre-execution stage. These projects range from drinking water schemes, irrigation, rural solar electrification, power plants, and transmission lines to cement, sugar, and textile factories, technology parks, and railway infrastructure.
This growing trade relationship between India and Africa has seen a significant increase in bilateral trade from USD 89.6 billion to USD 98 billion between 2021 and 2022-23. EAM Jaishankar's optimism about the trade surpassing the US$ 100 billion milestone indicates the potential for further expansion in this partnership.
Additionally, India's position as one of the top five major investors in Africa, with a total investment of US$ 73.9 billion from 1996 to 2021, showcases the long-term commitment and deepening economic ties between the two regions. This growth in trade and investment is expected to create new opportunities for collaboration and mutual benefit in various sectors, such as infrastructure, technology, and renewable energy.
In his speech, EAM Jaishankar emphasized the significance of an evolving knowledge economy, developing human resources through capacity building and skill development. India has provided over 42,000 scholarships to African students since the India-Africa Forum Summit III in 2015.
Many current high-ranking African leaders, ministers and officials have studied at Indian universities. In addition, many African officials have participated in training programs under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program. This human resource development, according to the External Affairs Minister, is an important part of strengthening India's partnership with Africa.
Looking towards the future, the India-Africa Growth Partnership is set to prioritize the Digital, Green, Health, Food, and Water sectors, aligning with the urgent needs and priorities of Africa. This strategic approach aims to leverage India's recent experiences and expertise in these domains, offering valuable insights and opportunities for fruitful collaboration. By focusing on these sectors, the partnership can effectively address critical challenges faced by African nations today.
In the digital sector, India's remarkable progress in information technology and digital innovation positions it as a valuable partner for Africa. India's advancements in digital infrastructure, e-governance, and the promotion of digital literacy can provide crucial guidance and support to African countries in their journey towards a digital revolution. Sharing best practices, technological solutions, and capacity-building initiatives can empower African nations to harness the potential of digital technologies, bridging the digital divide, and enabling inclusive growth and development.
The Green sector presents another area of immense collaboration potential. India's strides in renewable energy, sustainable development, and climate change mitigation offer valuable lessons for African nations facing similar challenges. Through knowledge sharing, technology transfer, and joint research and development initiatives, India and Africa can work together to accelerate the adoption of green technologies, enhance energy efficiency, and reduce carbon footprints.
This collaboration will not only contribute to mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change but also foster green jobs, promote sustainable agriculture, and ensure the preservation of natural resources for future generations. By prioritizing the Green sector, the India-Africa Growth Partnership can make significant strides towards a greener and more sustainable future for both.
INDIA SUPPORTS GABON'S NEW AGRI-SEZ PROJECT
On the same day that EAM Jaishankar highlighted different facets of this development partnership, an important milestone was achieved in the strengthening of ties between India and Africa. Union Minister of Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan flagged off Gabon's first Agri-SEZ. The project aims to foster agricultural development in Gabon and involves the participation of 30 experienced farmers and 20 students from Gajapati, an Aspirational District in Odisha, who will travel to Gabon to provide technical assistance.
His presence at the flag-off ceremony emphasized the growing significance of the India-Africa relationship, which spans from the rural district of Gajapati in India to the African nation of Gabon. The project's partnership with Centurion University highlights the importance of knowledge sharing and capacity building in driving sustainable agricultural practices. By leveraging the expertise of Indian farmers and students, Gabon will benefit from technical guidance, innovation, and skill development, propelling its agricultural sector towards greater productivity and self-sufficiency.
Pradhan's mention of "from Cheetahs to Climate Change" showcased the wide-ranging scope of collaboration between India and Africa. Beyond agriculture, the two regions are engaging in various fields, including wildlife conservation, climate change mitigation, and environmental protection.
This holistic approach emphasizes the comprehensive nature of the India-Africa relationship, focusing not only on economic development but also on addressing shared challenges and promoting a sustainable future. The Agri-SEZ project stands as a testament to the mutual commitment of India and Gabon to foster knowledge exchange, strengthen bilateral ties, and support each other in achieving their developmental goals.
The Gabon Agri-SEZ project exemplifies the potential of the India-Africa Growth Partnership to empower both regions through shared knowledge, resources, and development initiatives. As the partnership continues to evolve, it will undoubtedly contribute to the prosperity and well-being of both India and Africa, fostering a brighter future for all.