An International Conference on "PARTNERSHIP WITH COUNTRES IN SOUTHERN AFRICA" was organized by Centre for Research on Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) Chandigarh on February 2-4, 2014 supported by Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
The conference was inaugurated by Governor of Punjab, Hon'ble Mr Shivraj Patil and attended by dignitaries from Africa, senior officials and leading academic scholars from India and abroad. In his speech the Governor said that he was hopeful that the seminar would help in developing better understanding which was required for cooperation between the governments and people of India and countries of Southern Africa.
Chairman OIA Ambassador V.B.Soni as a Special Invitee spoke on the topic: "Reviewing Economic Relations with focus on Trade, Aid and Investment". In his presentation Ambassador observed 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 with vast natural resources mines and metals in abundance, energy rich with vast possibilities of becoming the bread basket of the world in the backdrop of the looming global food crisis. In the last decade it has become the fastest growing continent. While the average rate of growth on the African continent going above 5% some among them are growing at a double digit rate.
Problems still exist like poverty, malnutrition, food security, inadequate health facilities underdeveloped infrastructure, transportation and power shortage. Massive investments are needed for which many countries are queuing up because of the huge potential they perceive over a period of time.
China is all over in Africa 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 on 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 was suggested towards the end of the presentation.