African Continental Free Trade Area signals opportunity for Indian businesses: MEA Secy

at 5:24 pm
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New Delhi (NVI): The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) signals a great opportunity for Indian businesses to partner with African counterparts for greater integration and accelerate their development in the region, Rahul Chhabra, MEA Secretary said.

While addressing the inaugural programme of ‘Namaskar Africa’ organized by FICCI yesterday, Rahul Chhabra, Secretary-Economic Relations, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, “Out of 54 African countries we have Indian projects operating in 48 African countries with 75 projects worth USD 13 billion. This is the size of our commitment to the African Continent.”

Namaskar Africa focuses on promoting economic cooperation with different regions of Africa. This event focuses on sectors of priority that are of mutual interest like water, sanitation, IT, Pharma, healthcare, and these are all areas where Indian companies have strong expertise and experience.

“Indian companies must take advantage of the enormous change that is taking place in Africa,” Rahul Chhabra said.

The Secretary said, “We do not have a donor-recipient relationship with Africa but consider our partner countries as development partners.”

He stated that Indian companies have constructed many of the iconic projects in Africa, like the Parliament in the Gambia, the Presidential Palace of Ghana.

In addition to this, one-third of the power supply in Sudan and one-fourth of the power supply in Uganda comes from Indian power plant set up by Indian lines of credit, Chhabra said.

Elaborating on strengthening the manufacturing capabilities in Africa he said that the first cement plant in Djibouti, the first milk processing plant in Mauritania and the first sugar plant in Ghana are the first steps towards developing a stronger partnership in the manufacturing sector by plants set up by Indian lines of credit.

“We want to be forward-looking and forward-thinking to see how the partner countries can benefit from our collaborations,” said the MEA Secretary.

Furthermore, he stressed on the fact that India has provided medical assistance to over 25 African countries during the pandemic with the Vande Bharat flights carrying African patients to India even during the lockdown.

“Five air transport bubble arrangements are already in operations in Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda to maintain air connectivity so that that activities keep continuing,” he added.

“Our Vaccine supplies have gone out to maximum African countries and many more are committed,” he said.

Talking about the vaccine ditribution, he assured that India is working with the partners and the supply of vaccine to other African countries will be rolled out shortly.

“We have kept our resources open and waiting for approval from partner countries for a seamless movement of vaccine supplies,” he further added.

Relationship between India and Africa must be augmented to the level that will benefit Africa, pointed out Daniel Peter Othol, Dean, African Group of Heads of Missions in India, and Ambassador of South Sudan.

He said the African economy had melted due to the pandemic and Africa is looking at the Indian subcontinent for assistance.

“We want India to mechanise African agriculture, to build our social and physical infrastructure and the health and educational needs, especially during the era of Covid-19,” he said.