Solar energy, infrastructure, military cooperation and startup ecosystem are four critical areas where India can be a valuable partner to African nations, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday. The trade between India and African countries has been pretty balanced with exports of trade and services of about $40 billion (roughly Rs. 3,19,700 crore) and imports of $49 billion (roughly Rs. 3,91,600 crore), Goyal said while speaking at the inauguration of 17th CII-Exim Bank conclave here. "And we would like to continue this engagement and partnership where both African nations and India support each other in an endeavour to support each other's economic growth.
"India gives 27 Less Developed Countries from Africa the benefit of duty free tariff preference… it's time we also look at further deepening and strengthening the trade partnership and possibly look at giving greater trading access to both African continent and to India so that we can expand this trade in a much faster and greater way," the minister said.
Speaking at the conclave on 'India-Africa Growth Partnership - Creating Shared Futures', he said India and South African countries can work in several areas to bring cost effective, affordable and truly designed for local population solutions in several areas.
"And India would like to strengthen our offer of friendship, our offer of relationship based business so that we can meet the dream of 1.4 billion African people. There are four areas of partnerships that I believe can fulfil the aspirations of the people of Africa and India going forward," Goyal said.
He said both the countries are blessed with significant amount of sunlight and solar power can be one area of engagement between Africa and India.
It will bring clean energy to Africa, meet the energy security needs, provide jobs and employment and enhance economic growth in different countries in the region, the minister said.
"I also believe our military exchanges in the Indian ocean, defence trade, manufacturing in the defence sector can also lead to greater engagement between Africa and India," he said.
Besides, he said India is ready to help African nations in areas of physical and digital infrastructure, whether it is information technology, setting up new infrastructure projects in the region, healthcare and helping them manufacture vaccines.
"We also believe there's one area where we can tap a lot of human talent that is there in Africa is the startup ecosystem.
"India has been successful in creating the world's third largest startup ecosystem and today we are over 110 unicorns in India. I believe we can work together to co-create startup ecosystem in various African nations," he said.
Goyal said the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade will be delighted to engage with friends from Africa to see how the expertise gained over last few years can help the region.
"The expertise gained over the last few years since PM Modi launched the startup India progamme in 2015-16, can help...and encourage young boys and girls in Africa to come up with innovative solutions to meet the innovation needs of various African nations," the minister said.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a clear direction to accord the highest priority to India's engagement with African nations.
"In terms of our foreign policy and economic policy, Africa finds place of pride and I would like to reassure all the distinguished excellencies from different African countries that our relationship is based on trust, friendship and based on deep understanding of each other's imperatives, each other's requirements, each other's own domestic situations," Goyal said.
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