“Indian companies are not only investing in Africa but are also forging new people-driven partnerships and creating jobs, which are impacting lives of common people in these countries,” said Mr C R Chaudhary, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
The Minister was addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) - Exim Bank of India India-West Africa Regional Conclave which was organised on October 8-9, 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria has mapped emerging synergies and complementarities between the two emerging regions.
The minister appealed to all West African countries to avail of India’s Duty-Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) scheme to increase their exports to India. He expressed hope that the conclave will open “a new chapter in India-West African economic relations.” “The CII-EXIM Bank Regional Conclave on West Africa is happening at the right place at the right time to steer multi-dimensional relations between India and West Africa onto a higher trajectory,” he said.
“West Africa is getting greater attention from India, both diplomatically and economically,” he said. He lauded ECOWAS for playing “the role of an enabler and catalyst in transforming economic fortunes of the region.”
Mr M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India highlighted the “unprecedented economic transformation” going on in India and Africa, and argued for forging a roadmap, underpinned by a shared vision, for intensifying India-West Africa partnership.
"The reason why we are here is that both India and Africa have now set themselves on the course of transformation, which is unprecedented in their recent history. ECOWAS represents something fundamental about that transformation," he said.
Mr Akbar showcased pathbreaking economic reforms and initiatives for women empowerment taken by the Modi government in India and called for a more robust partnership between India and Africa across the spectrum.
The minister also spoke about easing bureaucratic procedures to enhance ease of doing business and facilitate trade and investment between India and Africa.
Underlining the importance of the India opportunity for Nigeria and the West African region, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nigeria stressed on scaling economic partnership with India, especially as West African countries look to diversify their resource-based economies. Nigeria could learn from India to diversify its economy amid common challenges faced by both countries.
Mr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President, ECOWAS Commission underscored that the conclave was important to strengthen business links between ECOWAS and Nigeria and foster economic development for both parties. He said that the development in the region offered opportunities to investors to take advantage of a large market, with the region recording a population of nearly 370 million people.
Mr B N Reddy, India's High Commissioner to Nigeria cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ten principles of engagement with Africa, which includes demand-driven, development partnership with the resurgent African continent. He also informed the audience of India's plan to open 18 resident missions across Africa, which also includes many West African countries.
Forging closer tie-ups in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) figured prominently in discussions. Mr Muhammad Jegana, President, Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, called for harnessing technology platforms to promote Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). “We need to look at how to bring India and West Africa together to Foster FinTech and digital economy,” he said. He added that there was a huge potential of small businesses being promoted through e-commerce platforms.
October 10, 2018