Regional Conclave cements India and East Africa as ‘Partners in Development’
Enhancing economic engagement between India and Africa was the focus of a meeting in Uganda attended by key ministers and government delegations from East African countries, government and business delegates from India, and representatives from industry, and financial and development institutions working in the region. The Regional Conclave was also attended by the President and Prime Minister of Uganda. The International Trade Centre (ITC), through its Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA) project, collaborated with development partners, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the EXIM Bank of India, to organise the CII-EXIM Bank Regional Conclave on India and East Africa: Partners in Development on 20-21 November in Kampala, Uganda.
The Regional Conclave was held in partnership with the Ministries of External Affairs and the Ministries of Commerce and Industry of the governments of India and Uganda and is a follow-up to the 12th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership held in New Delhi in March this year.
‘We are here to talk business,’ said the President of the Republic of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri K. Museveni, in his keynote address. ‘Due to the historical background that India has with Africa, the common links such as the English language and more deeply the Indian diaspora, as well as the vastness of the two markets, there is great potential for cooperation in business,’ he said. The President encouraged Indian investors to set up industries in Uganda, especially in agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, minerals, ICT and services.
Ms. Rita Teaotia, Commerce Secretary of the Government of India, urged delegates to welcome exports from Africa, saying that ‘the open door for East African imports is laid out in India’s provision of duty-free and preferential market access to all Least Developed Countries on 98.2 percent of all tariff lines.’
Mr. David Rasquinha, Managing Director of EXIM Bank of India, encouraged East African businesses and investors to make use of the opportunity to tap into the US$ 10 billion in lines of credit on offer from India. He also praised the efforts of East African governments in making their countries more business-friendly: “Three economies in East Africa are ranked higher than India in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report. We wish to learn from their experiences in promoting business.”
At the event, ITC Deputy Executive Director Ms. Dorothy Tembo emphasized the importance of aligning business objectives with the region’s development goals. She said that blending business synergies and development goals must be underpinned by the well-known Indian phrase ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makaan’, which in Hindi means food, clothing and shelter. ‘These are three areas where Indian and East African small and medium-sized enterprises, backed by their national institutions and governments, can focus on to make the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals a reality,’ she said.
Delegates discussed how Indian know-how and private sector investment can be used to build sustainable agribusinesses in East Africa. There was also a presentation of ITC’s India-East Africa Trade Information Portal and the ITC-Level A mobile application for agricultural trade between India and East Africa, both designed to reduce the challenges to international trade due to a lack or asymmetry of trade and market information.
SITA also hosted a side-event where Indian and African cotton stakeholders discussed concrete opportunities for technology and knowledge transfer. Business-to-business sessions in spices, pulses and sunflower oil also took place where more than 65 Indian and East African companies came together to assess opportunities for joint ventures, partnerships and business deals.
To find out more about SITA sessions at the Conclave, visit Voices of SITA.