The Commerce Ministry and Indian High Commissions and Embassies of eleven African countries arranged an interaction over Digital Video Conference (DVC) over two days, on 3rd and 6th May 2019, with the Indian business community in Africa. The interactions with Indian Diaspora were held in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and Mauritius, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, and Madagascar. This initiative was held in order to build an effective engagement with the Indian Diaspora in Africa in order to further deepen and strengthen India-Africa trade ties.
The DVC was attended by over 400 members of Indian business community in 11 African countries.
This initiative of the Commerce Ministry emphasizes the need for a multipronged strategy for further enhancing trade and investment ties between the two regions. Commerce Ministry recognizes that for formulating an effective export strategy it is imperative to engage the Indian business community in Africa for mutual gain for both sides as trade relations between the people of same origin instill greater confidence amongst trade partners.
The major issues highlighted by the Indian Business Community in these 11 countries are:
- Improving the Line of Credit system and developing a facility for an affordable and competitive funding.
- Setting up of Indian Banks/financial institutions in Africa
- Enhanced Buyers’ Credit facility for promotion of trade between the two regions
- Reviewing and liberalizing visa policies from both sides
- Need for direct flights between the India and African countries
- Exploring the possibility of rupee trade to address the issue of shortage of dollars in region.
- Creation of common database of buyer-suppliers in the two regions for facilitating matchmaking for enhancement of bilateral trade.
- Development of a robust trade dispute settlement mechanism
- More frequent and structured country/sector specific trade exhibitions in Africa
- Establishment of country chapters of FICCI or CII in Africa
- Frequent visits of policy makers, chamber of commerce and investors for familiarization with local business and investment regime for informed decisions
India’s total trade with the African region during 2017-18 was USD 62.69 billion (8.15% of India’s total trade with the World). India’s share of exports to African countries as a percentage of India’s total exports to the world was of the order of 8.21% in 2017-18. Africa region’s share in India’s total imports from the World accounted for 8.12% in 2017-18.
African countries present immense opportunities for India with the world’s largest land mass, 54 countries, a population growing to be almost equivalent to that of India, huge mineral resources, oil wealth, a youthful population, falling poverty levels and increasing consumption patterns.
Thus, Africa has a huge demand for new business models for market entry, stable market access, entrepreneurship and investments in transport, telecom, tourism, financial services, real estate and construction.