Special Correspondent

Message to India from the ‘Dialogue of Ministers’

NEW DELHI: India should be a shareholder and not just a stakeholder in Africa’s developmental process, and be willing to share the risks, was the leading message that came through the ‘Dialogue of Ministers’ held on Saturday at the 4th CII-Exim Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership 2008 in here.

Highlighting this aspect of India-Africa engagements, Tadesse Haile, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Ethiopia, said India should seek to play a larger role in Africa’s capacity building initiatives. He said though Indian consultants are already operating in Africa, many of them are linked to deals rather than any long-term engagements that could have translated into sharing of knowledge and skills.

Similarly, Simon Mboso Kiamputu, Minister of Industry, DR Congo, said the lines of credit extended by India should go beyond facilitating the supply of Indian equipment to Africa and encourage Indian industry to approach Africa in the true spirit of enterprise marked by long-term vision and risk-bearing outlook.

“We would like to see a long-term partnership between Africa and India leading to effective transfer of technologies and skills, local capacity building initiatives and utilisation of local resources for local development,” he said.

Ivohasina Razafimahefa, Minister of Economy, Commerce & Industry, Madagascar, said a stakeholder approach by India would contribute to Africa’s quest for long-lasting peace and prosperity. He hoped for a more balanced terms of trade between the two regions and said the partnership should look to scale up the engagements so that all partners can partake a larger share of the benefits of growth.

Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, commended CII’s efforts in organising the Conclave saying that it has resulted in “real deals being structured.” He observed that the cross-border engagements should lead to a higher level of capacity building programmes in Africa.

He also said that India has a key role in converting the local raw materials in Africa into productive assets. At the same time, there should be some level of regional coordination in Africa to leverage the benefits of partnerships with India for a larger number of countries in the region, he said.

Felix Mutati, Minister of Trade and Industry, Zambia, said both India and Africa share common challenges but the depth of challenges varied widely between the two regions.

“For a long-term partnership, both regions need to make a right assessment of these challenges, and importantly, India should look to pace up its cooperation endeavours to meet Africa’s urgent needs,” he said, adding, “We are asking you if you can act faster.”

He urged Indian industry to create industries in Africa. “Creation leads to happiness which will sustain democracy in Africa,” he said.

C. C. Mushohwe, Minister of Transport and Communications, Zimbabwe, said his country has adopted a ‘Look East Policy’ leading to stronger ties with countries such as India.