Kochi, Oct 22 (UNI) Inviting Indian investment in diverse areas ranging from agriculture to oil and gas, construction and information technology, a host of Arican countries today said the once ''dark continent'' is looking at India in particular for its economic development.
Speaking on behalf of the 'Heads of African Missions' in India, Rwandan Ambassador Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa said at the inaugural session of the CII 'India Africa Project Partnership - Showcasing Opportunities' seminar here that ''Africa is on the move''.
The once conflict-ridden African nations were now realising the value of peace and were putting in place a plethora of measures to guarantee safety of investment, investors and return on investments to attract foreign entrepreneurs.
Describing India's relationship with Africa as ''long-standing'', he said infrastructure, energy, minerals, transport and education were among the key areas where Africa was looking for collaboration with India.
Several African countries, including Rwanda, had preferential trade agreements with the USA, West Europe and southern and east African countries, making them a launching board for business with these areas.
High Commissioner of Ghana J Bentum Williams said Africa, which was known as the ''dark continent'' 50 years ago as it was closed to the outside world, had now realised that it could not harness the potential of its ''vast and virgin lands'' without help from others.
Asserting that investments in Africa were yielding the highest returns, he said the continent was ideally suited for projects on organic cultivation as its lands were free from pesticides and fertilisers.
Agriculture, bio-technology, financial services, IT and ITES, food processing, minerals and low cost housing provided ideal investment opportunities for entrepreneurs from Kerala and India, he said.
Acting High Commissioner of Kenya Saima J Ondimu said her country, which had an economic growth rate of only two per cent in 2002, had reached six per cent last year and was aiming at a ten per cent growth in the next 20 years.
Agricultre, tourism and infrastructure were the engines of growth of Kenya, which besides being an Indian Ocean country, was also strategically located centrally on the east coast of Africa.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Mr M S A Kumar, Vice-Chairman, CII, Kerala State Council, said India's special relationship with Africa was underscored by the recent visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Nigeria.
Observing that Africa met 12 per cent of India's oil requirements, he said the country planned to launch a technology hub for Africa in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, in the near future.
Mr Rajesh Manha, Deputy Director, CII, said the organisation had taken up in a big way the initiative to promote business with Africa. The 'India Africa Project Partnership', launched in 2005, had paved the way for the signing of a number of MoUs with proposed investment of millions of dollars.
As part of the partnership project, CII was holding regional seminars in Kochi, Ahmedabad and Bhubaneshwar this month.
The 'Third Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership' would be held in New Delhi from March 18 to 20.
Diplomats from Ethiopia, Lesotho, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe also attended the Kochi meet.