India eager to boost ties with African continent: Sharma

18 Mar 2013


Setting up educational institutions in Africa is only one example of India's keenness to increase its engagement with that continent, commerce and industries minister Anand Sharma told an Indo-Africa conclave today.

"We are committed to build an Indian Institute of Foreign Trade campus in Uganda, and an India-Africa institute of information technology in Ghana ... India and Africa have identified priority sectors," Sharma said while addressing a meet on India-Africa partnerships in New Delhi.

Sharma pointed out that more than 50,000 African students are studying in India, of whom 15,000 are getting Indian scholarships.

"India and Africa are engaged in different manner today than what they were a few years ago. India is building 70 institutions in Africa altogether," Sharma said.

India and Africa have witnessed a five-fold increase in their trade volume in the past seven years at $65 billion and both sides are poised to scale it up further, minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur told the gathering.

India and Africa together account for a huge market of 2.2 billion people with a combined GDP of more than $3 trillion.

"In 2011-12, exports from Africa to India stood at $43 billion and imports from India stood at $23 billion, with Africa's exports being double," Kaur said.

Kaur noted that the current India-Africa Project Partnership had received 475 project proposals worth $85 billion.

The partnership is being attended by around 900 delegates from 45 African countries, including parliamentarians and business heads. This is a pointer to the growing close cooperation between the two sides, Kaur said.

Showing her command of statistics, Kaur said the African continent has been the second-fastest growing region in the world in the past decade, positing seven per cent GDP growth; and is expected to grow at 5 per cent in coming years. From a collective GDP of $1.6 trillion in 2008, its GDP is set to grow to $2.6 billion by 2020.

India has extended 150 lines of credit worth $5.2 billion to African countries. Among the African projects in which India is involved are a rural electrification plant in Burkina Faso, a cassava plantation in Cameroon, and a cement plant in Djibouti.

India has also been assisting African countries under its Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme, which is a manifestation of south-south cooperation, Kaur said.

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