KAMPALA: Against the backdrop of the unfolding resurgence of India and East Africa, the fastest growing region in a rising African continent, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has called for pitching the burgeoning economic partnership onto a higher orbit.
India’s Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia underscored the striking convergence between the two regions and spoke about an “alignment between the India Growth Story and Africa’s own vision of resurgence, as crystallised in African Agenda 2063.”
Mrs Teaotia is leading a high-profile delegation of top Indian industrialists, investors and senior officials, to the CII-EXIM Bank Regional Conclave on India and East Africa in Kamala. The two-day conference (November 20-21), being held at the scenic Speke Resort and Conference Centre, has also brought together ministers from over half a dozen East African countries, including Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Malawi, Mozambique Ethiopia and Burundi, and policy-makers from the region.
Museveni calls for stronger India-Africa trade
Setting an upbeat note about the future of India’s economic relations with Uganda and East Africa, Mr Museveni exhorted Indian investors to take advantage of the improving investment environment in the country. “The potential is very big. Purchasing power in Africa is going up. Africa is the business centre of the future. You are right now in the right place at the right time,” Mr Museveni told delegates at the CII-Exim Bank Regional Conclave on “India and East Africa: Partners in Development.”
“India is a big market. So we want to sell in your market,” he said. Mr Museveni stressed that Africa was now almost the size of India in population, but Africa is bigger in land area. “India is one million square miles; while Africa is 12 million square miles. That means that you can fit India into Africa 12 times. That means that Africa’s potential is much bigger.” He pointed out that Africa’s purchasing power has grown dramatically to $7 trillion.
Building upon the success of CII-EXIM Bank annual conclaves and three editions of India-Africa Forum Summit, the India-East Africa conclave underlines the need for a region-wise approach to expand the canvas of economic partnership between India and East Africa.
The overarching objective of this conclave is to forge and solidify an enabling framework for unlocking the transformative potential of India-East Africa economic partnership, while adhering to the spirit of South-South solidarity.
India connect with Africa’s High5s
Outlining the unique nature of India-Africa partnership, Mrs Teotia said: “What will distinguish this burgeoning partnership is a striking alignment between the India Growth Story and Africa’s own vision of resurgence, as crystallised in African Agenda 2063 and Africa’s High 5s: “Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.”
“To translate aspirations into achievements will require strong political will, proactive policy changes by governments, increased appetite for risk by businesses, and building of an enduring knowledge bridge,” said Mrs Teotia.
Sanjay Kirloskar, Chairman, CII Africa Committee, and CMD, Kirloskar Brothers Limited, dwelled on focus areas of the India-East Africa partnership, which includes infrastructure, banking & finance, manufacturing, agriculture and food processing and knowledge sectors like IT & telecom, health care, education & skill development. “In all these areas, India and East African countries have substantial cooperation, but the current level of investment and collaboration is way below potential,” he said.
The Way Ahead
Looking ahead to a bright promising future, Mr Kirloskar called for raising the bar and pushing the bar for this mutually rewarding partnership. “This is no time for contentment, but for pushing the envelope and going the extra mile, with the mind and heart in the right place as we firm up a workable plan of action to turn diverse emerging opportunities into viable and profitable projects,” he said.
Promoting Brand India
As India gears up to intensify trade and investment with the dynamic East African region, promoting Brand India in the region will be crucial.
Brand India is synonymous with Trust, Quality and Innovation, said Mr Kirloskar. Alluding to India’s Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of Brand India, which comprises 5Ts – Talent, Trade, Tradition, Tourism and Technology, Mr Kirloskar stressed that by dovetailing the India growth story with the narrative of a resurgent African continent, India and East Africa can fashion a tomorrow of shared prosperity.
(Manish Chand is CEO & Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on global affairs)