Bolstering the tenets of South-South Cooperation

Traditional partners India and Africa once again reaffirmed their commitment to work in unison towards the development of their respective economies and strengthen the tenets of South-South Cooperation, at the 6th CII-Exim Bank Conclave on India Africa Partnership.

India and Africa once again reaffirmed their commitment to work in unison towards the development of their respective economies and strengthen the tenets of South-South Cooperation, at the 6th CII-Exim Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership, held in New Delhi, India, recently. The Conclave was organised jointly by the Export-Import Bank of India, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the commerce and external affairs ministries.
Around 500 high-powered delegations from various African countries comprising senior ministers, business heads, bankers and development specialists took part in the two-day Conclave themed as “Developing Synergies: Creating a Vision”. The deliberations at the event were linked to four sub-themes– India-Africa Partnership, Rural Economies, Africa Tomorrow and Going Green. In the true spirit of partnership, the discussions involved two major areas– skills development and adaptable technologies– which are of key importance to many African economies.

Joint Action Plan
S M Krishna, Minister of External Affairs, Government of India, who inaugurated the conclave, stated that the Indian private corporate sector had a key role in supporting the Government’s capacity building and skills development initiatives in Africa.
In his inaugural address, Krishna, said, “The Joint Action Plan which has been drawn up to implement the decisions made at the first India Africa Forum Summit held in 2008 has laid great emphasis on India extending its technical expertise and financial support toward building human capital in the African countries.”
The Plan is also directed to support the African governments in fulfilling their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Krishna added.
Stating that India and Africa have a major say in the emerging global economic order, Mr Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce & Industry, Government of India, said in his keynote address that the economic strengths of the two regions had come to the fore in the aftermath of the global economic meltdown that was triggered by the financial crisis in the western economies. South countries like India and the African nations hold the key to the global economic recovery, he said, while adding that the challenges for the economies will continue to be poverty alleviation and strengthening of food security.
Sharma also said that accelerated economic growth will aid India and the African countries to address the endemic issue of poverty. Issues linked to global climate change are also related to the issue of poverty, he pointed out.
Sharma said that the Indian and African governments and industry should strive to establish the essential linkages to spur development. “The Pan Africa eNetwork project is an example of this linkage. India has played a major role in making available affordable medicines including anti-retro virals (ARVs) in Africa,” he said.

Focus on capacity building
John Dramani Mahama, vice president, Republic of Ghana, lauding the efforts of the CII, said the annual Conclave had greatly supported the continuous India-Africa dialogue for mutual cooperation.
Mahama said that physical infrastructure development was an imperative for Africa’s growth and development and India could play a key role in this. He also said that Africa is on a relatively high growth path and is expected to register 4-5 per cent GDP growth in the year 2010-11.
Underlining the importance of food security, he said that Africa has large tracts of arable land that could be cultivated with Indian support to feed not just Africa but rest of the world.
“Africa remains one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world and offers returns of up to 65 per cent,” he said and concluded by saying that African countries would benefit much more from this partnership by focusing upon regional economic integration within the continent.

Key challenges
S E M Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, prime minister of Togo, in his address at the valedictory session, said that India-Africa partnerships had come a long way, but there were four key areas to be addressed.
Stating the need for more creative and innovative financing solutions, Mr Houngbo said the Government of India lines of credit alone will not be enough to meet the development needs of Africa.
He said the second key challenge was to see “how to unleash the full potential that they have and the third imperative would be to promote India-Africa partnerships in the true spirit of South-South Cooperation. By this he meant the engagements should not be limited to business deals but must extend to all areas of development including humanitarian goals, good governance, et al.
The fourth challenge that he identified was capacity building, not just at the individual level, but one that works at the institutional, governmental and societal levels. “No country can sub-contract its development. Development comes about when you develop the capacity to manage your own resources,” he said.

Implementation of action plan
Jonathan Wutawunashe, Dean of the Diplomatic Corp, said the actions points drawn up for India-Africa partnership should be implemented and monitored on a continuous basis. “We need to look at identifiable deliverables,” he added.
Sanjay Kirloskar, Chairman of CII Africa Committee, in his wrap-up presentation, said, “The Joint Action Plan has already laid great emphasis on India extending its technical expertise and financial support toward building human capital in the African countries. To broadbase this engagement, both government and corporate leaders have said that Indian companies should step up their capacity building initiatives in Africa and facilitate greater transfer of technical skills.”
“Indian government and private corporate sector have believed in contributing to asset creation in Africa, all along, and this approach has been a catalytic confidence builder for us all in this journey toward long-term sustainable partnership,” he said.
Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, who also took part in the Conclave, stated that India would soon establish India-Africa Institute of Information Technology, India-Africa Institute of Foreign Trade, India-Africa Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, India-Africa Diamond Institute, 10 Vocational Training Centres and five Human Settlement Institutes in Africa, in order to help capacity building.

Projects worth US$11bn discussed
The conclave witnessed intense networking between Indian and African entrepreneurs who explored prospects of joint ventures and discussed an array of projects worth US$11bn in areas ranging from power, fertilisers and agriculture to education, small and medium industries and telecommunications.
In the previous edition of the Conclave, projects worth over US$7.2bn spread over 193 projects were discussed, and over 58 MoUs were signed covering sectors such as agriculture, SMEs, and IT training.Shipra Tripathi, director of Africa for Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), said, “The conclave serves as an ideal platform to create a long-term vision for economic engagement between Indian and African economies.”
“It plays a vital role in strengthening the bilateral and regional partnerships, increasing Indian participation in Africa’s long-term development projects, enhancing capacity building initiatives and resource mobilisation programmes.”

Prabhu Dev

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