Tuesday, 20 October, 2020

FM to open India-Africa Cooperation sessions at AfDB meet on Monday

Debra Rodriguez | 24 May, 2017, 04:43

Inaugurating the 52nd Annual General Meeting of the African Development Bank in Gandhinagar on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after coming to power in 2014, he made Africa his top priority.

He said India is the fifth largest investor in Africa as in the last 20 years it has invested $54 billion.

Speaking on the occasion, Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, called Africa a continent of vast opportunities and said that there are opportunities for India and Africa to revive global growth.

Commenting on India's development journey, he said, "Prime Minister Modi has positioned India globally".

He said that Africa-India trade had multiplied in the last 15 years with it doubling in just the last five years to reach almost 72 billion dollars in 2014-15.

The report sees reasons to be hopeful for the economy this year, predicting a 3.4 percent expansion after weak 2.2 percent growth in 2016. India has successfully completed the Pan-Africa e-network project for tele network covering 48 African countries.

At the same time a transformed Africa is taking shape. Four of the world's five fastest-growing economies are in Africa, 14 of its countries grew above 5 percent in 2016, and 18 of them between 3 to 5 percent. Those missing links are the inability of African countries to exploit the preferential trade agreements provided by India; the need for capacity-building of small and business enterprises in Africa to bring out their real potential; using technology to leapfrog development in many sectors like education; and the inability of Indian financial institutions to push credit facilities to banks in Africa. "You can't develop in the dark", he said, "and 645 million Africans are now without electricity".

Fielding questions about the Bank's financial status and its capacity to fill the funding gaps that inhibit the continent's growth, he stressed the Bank's AAA credit rating, and its ability to unlock others' funding - at a rate of some USA $4 for every United States $1 of its own - to finance development.

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The African Development Bank is also in the vanguard of renewable energy development and the remarkable "off-grid revolution" in Africa.

Also, later this year, the African Development Bank will be launching the "Africa Investment Forum" to leverage African and global pension and sovereign wealth funds into investments in Africa.

Africa is expected to witness a marginal improvement in external inflows that are estimated to inch up to 179.7 billion dollars in 2017 from 177.7 billion dollarsa year ago.

"It is one of our best partnerships in the area of skills".

Modi, however, added that India still faces many challenges in its way to development, like uplifting the farmers and the poor of the country, and empowering its women.

India is already one of the top bidders for Bank projects.

"In Africa, we are working in some of the most hard areas of Mali, Chad, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, which are French speaking regions", RK Gupta, CMD of WAPCOS, told BusinessLine. The 2017 AfDB Annual Meetings will be held in Ahmedabad, India, 22-26 May.

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