India targets Africa opportunity, ups trade target to $100 billion

Raising the bar, India has set a fresh target for scaling up bilateral trade with Africa to $100 billion by 2015 and reaffirmed its will to partner the emerging continent in its economic resurgence and socio-economic transformation.
The 9th edition of the India-Africa business conclave (March 17-19), held in the Indian capital, has bolstered the growing business alchemy between India and Africa, which continue to remain growth centres amid a debilitating slowdown in the developed world.
India Inc. has struck an upbeat note and has matched its Afro-enthusiasm with a spate of fresh big-ticket investment plans by globally-bound Indian companies. Tata Group, India’s iconic business house and among the first Indian companies to seize the Africa opportunity, has announced new investments around $1.7 billion across Africa. The Tata Group is looking to step up its presence in mining and hospitality sectors and is in talks to set up new assembly lines for passenger and commercial vehicles in Africa. Godrej and Kirloskar are among other big Indian companies which have announced fresh investment plans in the continent.
Encapsulating this wave of Afro-optimism in India, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma set new benchmarks for the India-Africa engagement. “Despite the gloomy global environment, where there has been a contraction of trade, and with India’s own trade contracting with major trading blocks, we are upwardly revising the target with Africa to at least $100 billion by 2015 because I feel that it is achievable,” Sharma said while addressing trade ministers from Africa in New Delhi.
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur underlined India’s commitment to Africa’s socio-economic, technological and human resources development. She also underlined India’s unique model of development partnership with Africa which revolves around three Ts – trade, technology and training – and stressed that the engagement was done on “a consultative, participative and responsive manner based on Africa’s own assessment of their needs.” “India will continue to play a catalytic role in Africa’s capacity building initiatives,” Kaur said March 19.
According to the CII, India’s premier business body, seven Heads of State, 42 senior ministers and nearly 900 officials and business delegates from Africa are participating in the conclave which is expected to discuss 475 projects worth about $85 billion.
Co-hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Exim Bank of India, the three-day business conclave is focusing on infrastructure and capacity building, core focus areas of India’s rejuvenated engagement with Africa. This year, Cameroon is the guest country and Ethiopia the focus country.
According to the CII, India-Africa bilateral trade was $67 billion in 2011-12, registering a growth of 28 per cent over the preceding year. What is striking is that in the first 10 months of this fiscal year where India’s over-all trade declined 1.28 per cent, the country’s trade with Africa posted a healthy 8.32 per cent growth.
India and Africa, with a combined gross domestic product of nearly $3 trillion and healthy growth rates, are rapidly emerging a bulwark against the corroding downturn in the developed world.
India has reaffirmed its commitment to fast-tracking the establishment of over 100 training institutes across Africa. The training institutes encompass areas from IT, foreign trade and education, planning and administration, civil aviation and vocational training.
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