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India's women's bill inspiring for Africa: Ghana minister

Monday, March 22, 2010 02:56:07 PM, Manish Chand, IANS

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New Delhi: India's experiment with gender equality in parliament through the women's reservation bill has struck a chord in Africa, says Ghana's Trade and Industry Minister Hannah Tetteh.

"I hope this legislation goes through. It's inspiring for women everywhere, including in Africa," Tetteh, one of the seven women ministers in the West African country and a firm backer of stronger India-Africa ties, told IANS in an interview.

A lawyer by profession and an aide to Ghana President John Atta-Mills, Tetteh was here to attend a business conclave.

She also praised the panchayati raj system in India, saying India and Africa could share their experience in grassroots democracy and institution building.

Ghana is seen widely as a gateway to West Africa and a model for economic and political reforms in the African continent. Last year, it managed to get a $600-million three-year loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), due to its economy's resilience in times of recession.

"Different countries are at different stages of development. The forward march of democracy is likely to continue," said Tetteh, striking an upbeat note about the future of democracy in the resource-rich continent.

"With education and information, that process will gather momentum," said Tetteh, who has served as minority spokesperson on gender and children.

Ghana is looking at India for technology transfer and more investments in areas ranging from agro-processing and hydrocarbons to IT, she said adding that the possibilities of cooperation in these sectors are immense.

"The political, social and economic relations between India and Ghana go back many years. Africans gain from the transfer of technologies by India," she said.

"We have been discussing a fertiliser plant. That's going to be a reality soon," she said while referring to a fertiliser plant the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) plans to set up in Ghana to meet the needs of the West African nation and also export the surplus to India.

India is among the top five foreign direct investors in Ghana, with 46 projects worth $277 million involving Indian companies.

Praising the agenda-free Indian model of engagement with Africa, Tetteh said the India-Africa relations are marked by parity and mutual respect.

"The relationship is one of equal partners and not one where there is an assumption of superiority on the part of one," she said. "It's not prescriptive. This is what makes it a more workable relationship," she added.

Rooting for reforms in international bodies, including the global economic architecture, Tetteh called for greater cooperation between India and Africa in this area through regional mechanisms.

"The current international architecture is a reflection of post-World War II realities. The world has changed radically since then," she said. "The dynamics have changed. Change is inevitable," she stressed.

"The question is one of right mechanisms. It might be useful for India to engage with Africa through sub-regional mechanisms and organisations like SADC (Southern African Development Community) and ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States)," she said.

 

Manish Chand can be contacted at manish.c@ians.in

 

 

 

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