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Speech by H.E. Mr. Dinesh Bhatia, Ambassador of India to Cote d’Ivoire at Africa – India Partnership Day on 27 May 2015 at Abidjan

Posted on: May 27, 2015 | Back | Print

His Excellency the Trade Minister, Mr. Jean Louis Billon,

CMD, Exim Bank Mr. Mathur

ED for Nordic India Group Amb Tuuananen,

Friends, Colleagues, Acquaintances,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over 50 years ago on 25th May 1963, the then leaders of Africa, took a historical stride by creating the Organization of the African Unity (OAU), now known as African Union (AU). Subsequent year they created another institution - African Development Bank. Since then, the African states have relentlessly worked to provide depth and meaning to their political independence and striving for the socio-economic development of their peoples. Of course, the efforts have yielded the desired results.

Africa, a large continent of 54 countries and over a billion people, is today is emerging strongly from long periods of lost opportunities in their post-independence journey. Average GDP growth across the continent during the 1990s was merely 2.2% while average inflation hovered around 27%.

It has all now changed. Since 2001 Africa’s GDP has expanded more quickly each year than the global average. According to the IMF, seven of the world’s ten fastest growing economies today are in sub-Saharan Africa. And for the first time in living memory, inflation has been below the GDP growth rate for the last few years. In fact, in the past decade, only the bloc of developing Asian economies  led by China has grown faster than Africa.

A second trend to watch is the growing importance of services, agriculture and manufacturing to the economies of sub-Saharan Africa. The region already has a group of fast-growing export-oriented economies that do not rely heavily on the production of commodities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

India’s relation’s with Africa go back a long way. Today, our historical relationship with Africa has been revitalized keeping in view functional cooperation in the 21st century. Our political support for Africa has been augmented by closer economic cooperation, including economic assistance, functional cooperation, soft loans and private sector investment.

India is committed to a reinvigorated and multi-dimensional India-Africa relationship. Our technical and economic co-operation programme, ITEC, was launched in the 1960’s. Under this programme, professionals from Africa, Latin America and Asia attended courses in Indian training institutions. Indian experts also travelled to other developing countries to advice on various development-related policies and practices. From relatively modest beginnings, our capacity building programmes have expanded considerably in range and volume. Over the last year, nearly 10,000 ITEC training slots were allotted to 161 developing countries for about 280 courses in disciplines such as finance, management, IT, telecommunications, rural development and agro-processing.

The tradition of strong India-Africa has continued under the rubric of the India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) that has institutionalised long-term and sustained cooperation in the areas of technology transfer, economic cooperation and capacity building. The two IAFS meetings held so far have put in place a new paradigm of cooperation that builds upon the historical trust, goodwill and political engagement between India and Africa to create a modern functional partnership for mutual benefit. We want the continued deepening of this engagement through the third IAFS meeting which we plan to hold in New Delhi in end October.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The extension of Lines of Credit on concessional terms to other developing countries has emerged as an important component of our development partnership strategy, particularly in Africa. These Lines of Credit enable partner countries to import goods and services from India and undertake projects for infrastructure development and capacity building, in accordance with their development priorities. Over the last decade, almost 200 Lines of Credit, for an amount of over US$ 11 billion, have been allocated, with nearly 60% going to Africa. They have financed an extraordinarily wide range of projects from drinking water schemes to irrigation, solar electrification, power plants, transmission lines, cement plants, technology parks, railway infrastructure and many others. 

Another significant strand in our cooperation with Africa concerns focus on people-to-people contact. India has undertaken several innovative programmes to enhance contacts between journalists, students, business entrepreneurs, parliamentarians, etc. from India and the African countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In concluding, on behalf of Government of India and my own behalf, let me convey best wishes to all our African friends in their endeavours for socio-economic and technological growth and development.

I wish today’s Partnership Day all success.

Thank you.

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