India must first become resilient for business opportunities in Africa: MEA Secy

Rahul Chhabra, Secretary, Economic Relations, MEA

New Delhi (NVI): India-Africa trade has multiplied and diversified in the last 16 years. While working towards making Africa resilient for Indian businesses, focus must first be put on making India resilient for business opportunities in Africa, Ministry of External Affairs said.

Underscoring India’s commitment towards growth in relations with Africa, Rahul Chhabra, Secretary, Economic Relations, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the country’s businesses could benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement that was gathering pace.

Characterising the proposed pact as a “game changer”, more and more African countries are joining the agreement and a huge opportunity could come in a few months. Till date, 30 of the 54 countries have ratified the agreement, Chhabra said while addressing a FICCI webinar on Making Africa Resilient for Indian Business, attended by members of the Indian and African Diplomatic Corps.

Stating that India is a natural fit to engage in business in a challenging environment and diversity in Africa, Chhabra said 10 guiding principles outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Uganda in 2018 remained a priority.

In the past few years, India’s focus on Africa led to an unprecedented 34 high-level visits, including those by the President, Vice President and the Prime Minister.

The Secretary also said India welcomed all countries in the continent to join the satellite pan-Africa e-VidyaBharti and e-Aarogya projects. For instance, he said, 14,000 students enrolled in educational scheme in Ghana within weeks of  e-VidyaBharti starting.

Chhabra further said India had opened nine of the 18 new missions it planned to have in Africa and suggested to the business community to reach out to the Embassy/High Commission with specific issues.

Rajya Vardhan KanoriaPast President, FICCI and Chairman & Managing Director, Kanoria Chemicals & Industries Ltd, said, “Over the last 20 years, Africa has grown to be an interesting prospect for emerging market investors. Africa is increasingly being seen as the final frontier.”

He further added that Africa’s innovative and productive potential has already attracted substantial foreign investment in sectors like agriculture, education, infrastructure, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and specialty chemicals.

The webinar was also attended by Head of Indian Missions, and Head of African Mission and prominent Industry Members.

-CHK