India-Africa ties provides limitless opportunities: Jaitley

Gandhinagar: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said that India-Africa partnership could provide limitless opportunities for the future and that the two sides were engaging on a scale not witnessed earlier.

“If India is a bright spot, then Africa is not very far away. India-Africa partnership provides limitless opportunities. India, Africa together can shape future of the world,” Jaitley said here at the opening session of the five-day annual meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group.

“India-Africa partnership model is unique, cornerstone is voluntary partnership without any imposition. Our commitment is reflected in high-level engagement with Africa on a scale never seen before,” he added.

The theme of the opening session was “Africa-India Cooperation on Enhancing the High 5 Strategy”.

Jaitley said the “High 5” agenda of AfDB was not different from Indian policy.

AfDB has adopted a strategy called “High 5s”, which focuses on five major developmental priorities comprising agriculture, energy, industrialisation, regional connectivity and improved quality of life through access to social and economic opportunities.

The 52nd annual meetings of the AfDB Group that started on Monday will come to an end on May 26. This is the first time the AfDB is holding its annual meetings outside the African continent.

The five-day meeting will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 23.

The annual meetings are the largest event of the bank, which would witness the gathering of about 3,000 delegates from 81 member-countries from across the world at the Mahatma Mandir convention centre here in Gujarat.

During the meetings, India is also eyeing cooperation with tghe Africa nations on the International Solar Alliance (ISA) initiative, of which France and India are the co-chairs.

India will be organising an Africa India Cooperation Event on the sidelines of the main event.

The sessions would primarily focus on agriculture, health-care, e-governance, renewable energy, skill development and education, trade and investment and manufacturing.

Heads of states from Benin and Rwanda and other African countries as well as Vice-Presidents from Comoros and Cote d’Ivoire, and AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina are expected to address the sessions.

The government is also planning an exhibition to showcase the capabilities of Indian companies in terms of technology, innovation, and start-ups, which could be relevant to African countries.

Total trade between India and African countries increased almost five-fold between 2005-06 and 2015-16, and stood at $52 billion at the end of the fiscal 2016-17.

India’s exports to Africa increased from $14 billion in 2007-08 to $23 billion in 2016-17, at a compound annual growth rate of 5.6 per cent.

Indian imports from African states increased from $20 billion in 2007-08 to $28 billion in 2016-17, accounting for 7.5 per cent of total Indian imports.

During the India-Africa Forum Summit 2015, the announcement of $10 billion Line of Credit marked a new beginning in India’s approach to engage with African countries in a more constructive manner.

India joined the African Development Fund in 1982 and the AfDB in 1983, initiating a long history of cooperation spanning over 30 years.