India and Africa in economic co-operation

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Nearly one thousand African economic operators started this Thursday in New Delhi, India, discussions with their Indian counterparts, as part of the fourth conclave on an India/Africa partnership project.

By Ousseynou Guèye

This conclave, established in 2005 by India to develop trade and investment relations with Africa raises great enthusiasm on the part of Africains who are looking for partnership opportunities.

In the face of the success recorded by this conclave, India turned it into an efficient tool to promote its cooperation with Africa. It thus has organised mini-conclaves in Lusaka, Zambia, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April 2006 and in Accra, Ghana, in May 2006.

In 2007, these are the four African countries which were chosen to play host to this conclave on the India/Africa partnership: South Africa, Mozambique, Uganda and Côte d’Ivoire.

These events were based on the role of banking institutions in the financing of Indo-African projects, as well as factors inluencing trade between India and Africa, thus enabling Africans to better perceive the partnership with India.

“Africa is no longer a preserve and we wish to divrsify our relations to establish partnerships with operators coming from the emergent countries in the South,” an operator from Niger, specialised in transport, who came “to find out how the land lies,” highlighted.

Several African ministers, about thirty, are also participating in this conclave whose main goal is to establish a dialogue and information platform with Indian companies operating in the fields of enterprise counselling, turnkey projects, the manufacturing and distribution of project material, etc.

This Thursday’s discussions made it possible for African operators to have an idea of the rank and dimension of the Indian industry, as well as the will of Indian enterprises to participate in African projects.

Several African operators who took part in the debates during the workshops highlighted the need to reduce the dependence of African countries on Western sources of technology, products and services in the continent’s development.

They thus note the competitiveness of Indian products which “are of good quality contrary to a propaganda conducted by some competitors who are arguing of the poor quality of Indian products,” one Egyptian participant emphasized. The latter affirms that India made it possible for Indian agriculture to develop by providing, through an enterprise, nearly 100,000 motor pumps.

“If for example we take the example of a Tata (Indian label) make, it costs, when sold in Africa, about 23,000 US dollars while a bus of European make can easily cost 120 thousand US dollars,” an African ambassador, who asked not to be named, highlighted.

He totally rejects accusations that Indian products are of poor quality, considering that they work on the basis of Western technology which they have simply “indianised”.

But the financing of partners constituted a big question mark for some operators. In fact, it is India’s import-export, Exim bank, which plays a major role in the financing of projects.

However, this bank grants funding to the state on soft terms of 1.75 per cent over a period of twenty years and a grace period of five years. Hence the need for any operator whishing to establish a partnership with the Indians to be sponsored by his country to be in a postition to get a loan from Exim Bank. It’s no sinecure.

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