Indian companies’ interest in Africa is set to get a major boost. A three-day India-Africa Project Partnership Summit, starting from March 17 in Delhi, will roll out the red carpet for Indian investors. Representatives from almost all the African countries will participate at the summit, being organised by the Confederation of Indian industry (CII) and Exim Bank, with Burundi, Cameroon and Zambia as the main guest countries. Already, 30 African countries have submitted 475 project proposals worth $65 billion, in which Indian companies can invest.
Even if half of these find takers, it would push India Inc’s overall investment in Africa from $35 billion to about $60 billion. The major sectors that the African countries are looking for Indian investment include agriculture, consumer durables, infrastructure, energy, transport, mining, finance and telecom. There are huge opportunities in Africa, especially in consumer durables and agriculture. Moreover, these countries provide ideal investment climate, too. We want to showcase the opportunities there to the Indian corporates, said Adi Godrej, CII president and chairman of the Godrej group. Among the companies that have invested in Africa are Airtel, Godrej, Emami, Marico, Dabur, ONGC Videsh, Essar, Coal India, Tata Group, Godrej group, Bharti, Kirloskar, Mahindra & Mahindra, Escorts and Apollo. The bilateral trade between Indian and Africa has gone up from $3 billion in 2000 to about $70 billion during the current financial year. The trade is expected to touch $90 billion by 2015. Although Africa is widely seen as a battleground between India and China for trade supremacy, the buzzword at the ground level is collaboration, rather than competition. “For us, it is much like a hand-holding approach by two elder sisters,” said Jonathan Wutawunashe, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to India. In an effort to tackle the aggressive Chinese expansion in Africa, India had extended a $5.7-billion credit and grants for developmental projects and over 100 capacity building institutions in Africa. This is apart from the line of credit that EXIM Bank provides to African nations. Among the proposals that CII received from the African nations are 126 agricultural projects worth an investment of $4.74 billion, 177 infrastructure projects worth $34.19 billion, and 34 energy sector plans costing $20.74 billion. “In the last decade, both India and Africa signed 24 major bilateral treaties and we have already become the fourth largest trading partner with Africa. The summit would further boost those initiatives,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director-general, CII. India has also been helping Africa in pan-African e-network projects, tele-education and developing basic infrastructure facilities like water management projects.