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India helping create

business hubs in Africa


through
development partnership
Half a century into its technical outreach to the least developed and
developing nations, India is helping create hubs of small and medium
industries in some of the African countries to enable job generation and add
value to their exports.
The gradually emerging trend in the recent years is a win-win situation for
both. It is a sign of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC)
Programme, begun in 1964 coming of age.
On his visit, the first by an Indian Head of State to Cote Dvoire, President
Pranab Mukherjee discussed setting up of a plant to process cashewnuts.
Coco and cashewnuts are major exports of Cote Dvoire, a tiny western West
African nation, to India. Indeed, Cote dIvoire is the second largest exporter of
cashew in the world and India imports around 80 percent of Ivorian exports of
cashew.
A Joint Business Forum was held during Mukherjees visit here with a view to
encouraging establishment of business linkages and identifying new areas of
mutual cooperation. The opening of a representative office of the Export
Import Bank of India in Abidjan will also facilitate greater interaction between
the business communities of the two countries, Mukherjee told President
Alassane Qattarra at the banquet Tuesday evening.

Indias capacity building, that began more as a state-to-state drive, is slowly


changing with more and more private Indian companies setting up
manufacturing hubs.
While big ones have set up plants with local collaboration, the challenge still
lies in getting small and medium enterprises interested in entering into such
arrangements that require moving away from traditional areas, grappling with
local rules and regulations and start production that takes time to start fetching
profits.
Not all smaller nations are ready for hi-tech and could do with the intermediary
technology that India has developed.
This has required imagination and initiative and facilitating increased
participation of Indian enterprises entering territories that are uncharted or less
charted. This has worked in several sectors, including pharmaceuticals and
agro-based industries.
This helps in value-addition for the African side, while it takes care of the
distance involved.
Indias developmental partnership in Africa has not come a day too early in
that China is either already there in a big way or is coming in close. China has
stepped in with factories and funds in an area that was traditionally Indias with
a large diaspora that has been focused on trade rather than manufacture and
setting up infrastructure.
A typical example is here where Indias bilateral trade is modest, but is
planned to cross a billion dollars with such efforts.
Another aspect of the growing cooperation with the smaller African nations is
the increasing emphasis on Information Technology. A number of Indian
enterprises have established presence in Cote dIvoire in recent years making
India one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment in the country.
Many Indian companies are operating in the mining and minerals sector.
There are also several Indian companies small and medium size involved
in trading, manufacturing; ICT; agro-processing. Some leading Indian
pharmaceutical companies also have operations in Cote dIvoire.