Africa an opportunity for India: Anand Sharma

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New Delhi, mar.24 (ANI): The 21st Century is the century of a "resurgent India and a vibrant and self-confident Africa," said Minister of State for External Affairs and Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Anand Sharma, adding that it was time for India and Africa to step up their partnership to a new level, especially in the fields of capacity building and skills development.

Delivering the valedictory address at the 5th CII-Exim Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership here today, Sharma pointed to the successful launch of the Pan-African e-Network Project, and described it as "a pioneering effort in the fields of telemedicine and tele-education that would result in a mutually rewarding partnership."

Conceding that the current meltdown was having an adverse effect on the investment climate, Sharma said: "It was time for industry to see this challenge as an opportunity by become more innovative. Both India and Africa had the demographic advantage of a young populace and industry must capitalize on this to take the advantage when recovery returns."

The minister said that "it was time for Indian industry to institutionalize its relations with Africa, adding that "new pathways had to be found for sustainable and inclusive growth." In this context, he pointed to the strategies outlined in the Framework Cooperation Agreement that was reached at last year's India-Africa Summit.

On the occasion, two MoUs were also signed. The first between the COMESA Business Council (CBC) and the Confederation of Indian Industry, and the second for a 25-million dollar line of credit from the Government of India for Burkina Faso, the partner country for the conclave. The CBC-CII MoU provides a framework for promoting technical cooperation between the CII and the CBC in all fields of economic activity, while the line of credit to be extended by the EXIM Bank seeks to promote rural electrification in Burkina Faso.

In his address, Ambassador Jonathan Wutaunashe, Dean of the African Groups of Heads of Missions, said that theme of the conclave-'Celebrating Partnerships' was an appropriate one but the challenge lay in ensuring that the outcomes and targets are achieved.

According to Ambassador Wutaunashe, "today Africa presented an opportunity, with more governments in the continent putting in place the necessary policy frameworks to attract investment." He said that "people in Africa came to India to take health, education and technology back to their country, and it was this relationship that must now be put on a stronger footing."

On his part, Syamal Gupta, Chairman, CII Africa Committee and Chairman, Tata International, noted that the conclave was a major springboard for greater India-Africa cooperation and that the Indian SME (small and medium enterprise) story could be a learning experience for Africa. Similarly, Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, CII Director-General, said that the conclave provided a strong framework to further bilateral partnerships between the two regions. (ANI)

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