Commonwealth forum tries to sell Africa to Indian investors

Commonwealth forum tries to sell Africa to Indian investors
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First Published: Tue, Mar 13 2007. 12 38 AM IST
Updated: Tue, Mar 13 2007. 12 38 AM IST
Mumbai: The Nigerian commissioner for insurance Chief O.E Chukwulozie finished liberalizing his country’s insurance sector and consolidating 168 insurance companies into 69 on 28 February. Now, he has set out on a worldwide tour to find investors—the first stop is India.
“India is a promising and emerging country,” he said. He has come to “educate“ Indian investors about Nigeria and Africa, after visiting London and China about a year ago. He will address the Mumbai business community on 13 March on this topic.
African governmental and business delegates—such as Chukwolozie—have come and will continue to approach the subcontinent seeking investment from India Inc, said Mohan Kaul, director-general and chief executive officer of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC).
Delegates looking to create awareness among investors are attending a conference on Monday and Tuesday in south Mumbai. They include South Africa-based gold mining company AngloGold Ltd, South African Airways, the Republic of South Africa and the Nigeria High Commission.
The 10-year-old CBC facilitates business between the public and private sector across the 53 Commonwealth countries, including developed economies such as the UK, Singapore, Canada and developing countries such as India and Malaysia.
CBC claims to be the world’s second-largest trading bloc after the European Union, handling trade worth $2.8 trillion annually and with foreign direct investment outflows of over $160 billion, predominantly from the UK.
“India is emerging as an investor and destination for investment,” Kaul said. Africa, he said, can learn from India because it has the most recent experience in developing its world perception as a key place to invest. “We are facilitating this partnership between Indian companies and African countries.”
One of Kaul’s key projects in Uganda is the creation of an IT park, with the aim of making its capital city Kampala into the ‘Bangalore of Uganda’. And he has been reaching out to Indian companies, including Tata Consultancy Services, to take space and outsource their work.
In addition, he is looking for Indian expertise in microfinancing and air-cargo terminal development for Uganda.
Indian companies, including ICICI Bank International, Mahindra & Mahindra, J Sagar Associates and Exim Bank of India, interested in working on improving trade and investment flows between China, Brazil and Africa will attend a conference at the end of this month in Capetown.
Indian investors may be more sympathetic to the plight of African countries, Kaul said, as the continent has a negative perception among investors. “Stories of despair are more than the success stories (in Africa), but this was the case in India 10 years ago,” he added.
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First Published: Tue, Mar 13 2007. 12 38 AM IST
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