India, Africa trade set to increase to $70 bn over next two years

India, Africa trade set to increase to $70 bn over next two years

New Delhi: The similarities between Africa and India will lead to significant cooperation and trade of around $70 billion (Rs 3.16 trillion) in the next two years, panellists said on the third and concluding day of the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Such ties, labelled South-South, or New South, cooperation, promise to become a big part of the global economy.

Representatives from both countries agreed that aid had done nothing but increase the debt burden on African citizens.

“We see Africa’s relationship with Brazil, India and China as strategic. They are important in the quest for socio-economic development of our continent," said Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya. High on his list under this new approach are science and technology transfers and the creation of value-added products from raw materials as well as infrastructure development.

The two regions can work on their strong historical ties to deepen their partnership in the future, he added.

“With our investments, we want to share our technology and development experience," Anand Sharma, India’s minister of commerce and industry said.

The Indian minister added that cooperation can be especially fruitful given the similar profiles.

“India has set up an institutional mechanism to deepen its partnership with Africa and is taking a number of steps to reduce poverty, provide health and food security in Africa," Sharma added.

The minister referred to the Pan-Africa e-network project, which aims to develop Africa’s information and communication technologies by eventually connecting all 53 African countries to a satellite and fiber-optic network as an example of India’s commitment towards the continent’s development.

James T. Motlatsi, deputy chairman, AngloGold Ashanti Ltd, South Africa, said a new colonialism was emerging.

India had donated tractors without spare parts while China was building infrastructure using its own manpower thereby not leaving any skills or employment behind.

He said deeper relationship between India and Africa will help to reduce poverty in the two regions.

Sunil Mittal, group CEO, Bharti Enterprises, said India had lost out to China in its access to Africa over the last decade, but expressed hope that the large number of young people in both regions would correct the anomaly.

Amadou Dioulde Diallo, chief executive officer, Africa and South Asia Pacific, DHL Global Forwarding, Singapore, expressed the need for a free-trade agreement between India and Africa and also the need for direct trade routes to make such FTAs effective by ensuring connectivity.