A two day National Conference on the topic "The Rising Africa: Opportunities and Challenges for India"was organized by the Department of African Studies and Centre for African Studies, University of Delhi on September 11 and 12, 2013. It was attended by eminent scholars from Indian and Africa. Chairman OIA,Ambassador VB Soni was requested to Chair a session and also present a paper on "Economic Challenges in Africa".
The theme of the conference wasPolitical Challenges& Good Governance, Economic and Development Challenges,Social Cultural Challenges, India & Regional Organizations of Africa, Africa and East Asia, Literature, Media & Popular Culture, Peace and Security and Environment & Climate Change.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Soni dwelt at length the requirement of Africa for skill development, capacity building and transfer of appropriate technology. He mentioned about the difference that will make in the Economic Development Program of coveredcountries. He compared made by China which did not include this particularaspect hence African counties look up to Indian experience.
On the subject of "Economic Challenges", Ambassador Soni said that stereotyped skewed projection of Africa as a dark continent with rampant poverty, starvation deaths, violence, dictators and wide spread corruption by the Western media tells only one-sided negative story.
Africa has natural resources, energy, mines and metals in abundance for long exploited by the colonial powers which are often glossed over. In the last decade it has become the fastest growing continent in the world. While the average rate of growth is around 5% some among them are growing at the rate of 9% and above.
Problems still exist like poverty, food security, inadequate health facilities underdeveloped infrastructure, transportation and power. Massive investments needed for which China, India and Brazil among others are queuing up.
While China is all over with an open purse hunting for energy and mines/metals but follows mercantilist approach. India with enlightened option is entering Africa as a partner with the aim of skill development, capacity building and transfer of appropriate technology. This is evoking positive response. India providing soft financing is proving popular. Africa-India Summit Forums need to be utilized for coming up with innovative ways to become more broad based and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the Africans.
Enormous possibilities exist ready to be exploited for India's energy needs. The continent also provides ready market not just for commodities but project export of massive scale. SME model popular there ready to be transplanted with India's experience. Agriculture and agro-based sectors provide enormous scope for Indian companies to exploit for mutual benefit. For long term strategy a road map to follow is suggested in conclusion.