Explained: A major India-Africa conclave is taking place in New Delhi – why is it important?
Senior diplomats from several African countries are currently in New Delhi for a key two-day investment meeting which was to be opened by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday, July 19. External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and Trade Minister Piyush Goyal were due to attend the summit.
vice-president @MVenkaiahNaidu met with the Vice-Presidents of Gambia, Mauritius and Zambia, and the DPM of Namibia. The leaders are in New Delhi for the ongoing CII-EXIM Bank conclave and other bilateral engagements.
The joint interaction gave rise to discussions on ways to take the India-Africa growth partnership forward. pic.twitter.com/mGpIlECE3i
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) July 19, 2022
Forty high-level ministers from 17 countries including Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Eswatini, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Niger, Malawi, Mauritius , Sudan, Namibia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, are participating in the two-day summit.
The CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Growth Partnership was launched in 2005 with the support of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Trade and Industry to encourage the development of Indian private investment in African countries.
Welcome to DPM & FM Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah from Namibia India. His participation in the CII-EXIM Bank conclave and his many engagements over the next few days will further deepen our relationship with Namibia in all areas. pic.twitter.com/KEEOLPx0he
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) July 17, 2022
This is the 17th edition of the conclave. Over the years, it has “emerged as one of the largest congregations of senior ministers, policy makers and business leaders in Africa and India, spanning all sectors”, and “played a pivotal role by encouraging Indian companies to establish and grow their footprint in Africa,” according to the conclave website.
This year’s conclave focuses on infrastructure development and trade finance, education and training, agriculture and food processing, advisory services and healthcare, in addition to other areas. where Indian companies have steadily increased their presence over the years in Africa.
Trade between the African subcontinent and India grew from $7.2 billion in 2001 to $59.9 billion in 2017, making India the continent’s fourth largest national trading partner, according to Exim Bank and the African Export-Import Bank (Afriexim Bank). Trade with India accounted for over 6.4% of total African trade in 2017.
Data from the Ministry of Trade and Industry shows that bilateral trade between India and the 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa was valued at $46.82 billion in 2020-2021, compared to $55.70 billion in 2019-2020. India has a negative trade balance with sub-Saharan Africa, according to ministry figures.
In a statement issued to mark Africa Day on May 25, the Ministry of External Affairs said 38 African countries had benefited from India’s Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme (DFTP), which provides access duty free at 98.2% of India’s total tariff lines.
Lines of Credit (LOCs) worth $12.26 billion have so far been extended to African countries, making them the second largest recipient of concessional loans from India, the MEA said.
Gurjit Singh, India’s former ambassador to Ethiopia and India’s former representative to the African Union, and author of “The Harambee Factor: India-Africa Economic And Development Partnership,” said the conclave, in addition to help bring the Indian private sector into African countries, “brings African ministers together with their Indian counterparts in informal meetings instead of ministerial meetings”.
Some sessions of the conference are country specific, focusing on individual countries, for example Mauritius, Namibia and Gabon. Mauritius, in particular, has become a financial hub and a gateway to the African continent for India, Amb. Singh said.
A warm welcome to Vice President Marie Cyril Eddy Boissézon of Mauritius for her participation in the CII-EXIM Bank Conclave.
Yet another step towards the continuation of dynamic economic and interpersonal exchanges between 🇮🇳 and 🇲🇺. pic.twitter.com/q7zccowvY2
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) July 18, 2022
Mauritius is the first and only African country so far to have a CECPA (Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement) with India, an agreement which aims to strengthen commercial ties between the two countries.
Political stability and rapid economic recovery from Covid-19 have made Namibia’s resource-rich southern Africa attractive for foreign investment, the conclave’s website says. The country has rich deposits of uranium, diamonds, copper, phosphates and other minerals.
At a trade summit last year, the country’s High Commissioner to India, Gabriel P Sinimbo, said the country was exploring the possibility of exporting diamonds and semi-precious stones directly to India rather than through other countries.
Over the years, Indian companies have invested in the energy, health and agricultural sectors, as well as in diamond cutting and polishing activities in Namibia. Analysts expect these sectors to grow over the next few years.