Describing India as “a trusted partner” in the journey of socio-economic development of Africa, External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar underlined the primacy of the African continent in India’s foreign policy and projected “the triad of health, digital and green growth” as the focus of India-Africa collaboration in the future.
“Africa plays a particularly important role in India’s foreign policy outlook. That is reflected in our expanding diplomatic footprint that today covers 43 African countries,” Dr. S. Jaishankar said at the 17th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Growth Partnership on July 19.
“During the last eight years, there has also been a stepped up engagement with the continent, recording 36 high level visits from India and more than 100 similar ones from Africa,” he said.
Dr Jaishankar shared that India’s bilateral trade with Africa has now reached US$ 89.5 billion in 2021-22 compared with USD 56 bn the previous year. With cumulative investments at US$ 73.9 billion from 1996-2021, India is among the top five investors in Africa, he said. He highlighted that through the Duty Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) Scheme that extends duty free access to 98.2 per cent of India’s total tariff lines, India has opened its market to African countries. “So far 33 LDC African nations have been entitled to get benefits under this scheme,” he said.
Alluding to the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), he stressed that it “would be helpful to Indian companies to enhance and intensify the business footprint in Africa.”
Dr Jaishankar underlined the growing importance of technology in transforming India-Africa engagement. “There is ample scope in the sphere of technology, and with our emphasis on trust and transparency, India and Africa make natural partners,” he told hundreds of Indiana and African delegates at the Day 1 of the two-day conclave.
“India has helped African countries to promote digital transformation through setting-up of IT Centres, Science & Technology Parks and Entrepreneurship Development Centres (EDC),” he said
The minister described in detail India’s burgeoning development partnership with Africa, saying that “development partnership would have primacy in India’s Africa policy.”
“Being a trusted partner in the journey of socio-economic development, India has extended concessional loans of over US$ 12.3 billion to Africa. We have completed 197 projects so far, 65 more are currently under execution and 81 at the pre-execution stage,” he said.
“In addition, India has granted US$ 700 mn of grant assistance.” India’s development projects in Africa encompass various sectors such as drinking water schemes to irrigation, rural solar electrification, power plants, transmission lines, cement, sugar & textile factories, technology parks, railway infrastructure. The minister said that India-supported development projects have “generated local employment and changed the life of many people in Africa.”
“It is worth considering how we, India and Africa, how we can make the triad of health, digital and green growth the focus of our collaboration. This is as much a business opportunity as it is a public policy,” he said.
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