President Mukherjee during his Ceremonial Welcome at Kotoka International Airport, in Accra │© PTI

President Mukherjee’s visit strengthens Indian-African economic ties

At the end of his three-nation African trip in June, Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian President, said: “We have, through these visits, conveyed the message that India takes its engagement with Africa seriously and intends to follow up with determination on the announcements made at the India-Africa Forum Summit. India is committed to further consolidate our cooperation with all African countries.”

Indeed, during the third Indian-African Summit in India last year’s October, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his country would award concessional loans to the tune of US$ 10 billion and grants of US$ 600 million to African countries in the next five years to boost the economic development of the continent.

As a matter of fact, Mr Mukherjee visited Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Namibia from 12-17 June 2016. He spent two days in each country he visited. On the 16th of June in Windhoek, the Namibian capital city, he signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with his Namibian counterpart, President Hage Geingob. The first MoU pertains to capacity building for Namibian civil servants and the second revolves around the establishment of an ICT Centre of Excellence in Namibia. Moreover, Namibia and India are keen on furthering their co-operation in mining and exploration of minerals.

The Indian Head of State hinted that his country could also draw on the Namibian successful experience in some areas: “India can learn from Namibia on how it has developed its tourism industry in a sustainable manner,” he said. Mr Mukherjee also mentioned the “Namibia´s fishing and marine processing industry” that can inspire his country.

Of course, India can also bring a lot to Namibia in “areas such as agriculture, industry, science and technology especially ICT,” he submitted.

President Geingob, on his part, let his special guest from India know that, according to the deal struck in 2009 between the two countries, Namibia was willing to supply India with uranium.

In Côte d’Ivoire where Mukherjee arrived on the 14th of June, the Indian delegation signed an agreement paving the way for the reopening of the regional office of the Export-Import Bank of India. This office had been closed and relocated to Senegal because of the civil war in Côte d’Ivoire. The Export-Import Bank of India awarded a loan of US$ 176.3 million to Côte d’Ivoire in order to fund Ivorian construction and ICT projects.

The Export-Import Bank of India has two other regional offices in Addis Ababa and Johannesburg.

Mukherjee promised that Indians “would be happy to join your government in developing the infrastructure that you require in the different sectors of your growing economy. We have much to offer.”

Côte d’Ivoire buys Indian pharmaceuticals and cars. During the business forum that brought together business people from both countries in Abidjan, the Ivorian company SOTRA signed a deal to buy 500 buses from the Indian automaker TATA International. TATA will cash 85 million euros from that transaction. India imports agricultural goods such cashew nuts and oil products from Côte d’Ivoire.  Also, the Ivorian Investment Promotion Centre and the Confederation of Indian Industry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to ease and enhance business between the two countries.

Côte d’Ivoire intends to tap Indian know-how and technology in order to process raw materials such as cashew nuts and cocoa. Furthermore, the country wants to learn from India as regards Information and Communication Technology (ICT). That´s why the Mahatma Gandhi Information Technology and Bio-Tech Park was set up with Indian assistance in that West African country.

 Mr Mukherjee began the first leg of his three-nation African tour on the 12th of June in Ghana. India and Ghana reached an agreement to ease the movement of diplomats and officials between the two countries. The country of Mahatma Gandhi and that of Kwame Nkrumah also signed two Memoranda of Understanding to boost their commercial ties and academic interaction. There are 700 Indian companies registered in Ghana. The US$ 400-million-loan awarded by the Export-Import-Bank of India to Ghana for the construction of the railway line from the seaport town of Tema to the small town of Akosombo made up the highlight of Mukherjee´s trip to Ghana.

Pranab Mukherjee flew back to India on the 17th of June after having strengthened Indian-African friendly ties, which Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, intends to deepen during a four-nation African tour, starting on 7 July and which will take him to Mozambique,  South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.

Mathias Victorien Ntep

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