The Hindu | 2 March 2021
‘African Continental FTA signals opportunity for Indian businesses’
African countries want India to help in mechanising agriculture, build social and physical infrastructure and provide more vaccines.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) signals a great opportunity for Indian businesses to partner with African counterparts for greater integration and fast-tracking their development, said Rahul Chhabra, Secretary-Economic Relations, Ministry of External Affairs.
“Out of 54 African countries, we have Indian projects operating in 48 African countries with 75 projects worth $ 13 billion....This is the size of our commitment to the African Continent,” he said at the inaugural programme of `Namaskar Africa’ organised by FICCI on Monday.
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.
Othol added that there is an urgent need to boost the immunity of the population of Africa, and, therefore, it is looking at India for vaccines.
India’s vaccine supplies have gone out to maximum African countries and many more are committed, said Chhabra, adding that the country was 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 are waiting for approval from partner countries for a seamless movement of vaccine supplies,” he said.
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, said Chhabra.
“We want to be forward-looking and forward-thinking to see how the partner countries can benefit from our collaborations,” the MEA Secretary added.