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India-Africa conclave: Projects worth $18 bn discussed

Tuesday March 29, 2011 05:31:45 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Projects worth $18 billion were discussed at the India-Africa conclave that concluded here Tuesday after two days of deliberations in sectors ranging from education to energy.

The seventh edition of the CII-Exim Bank conclave on India Africa Project Partnership was attended by two prime ministers and over a dozen ministers from Africa.

The conclave witnessed the largest ever participation with 650 delegates, who discussed 204 projects worth $18 billion.

Speaking at the valedictory session Tuesday, Togoan Prime Minister Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo said that the partnership between India and Africa was "all about poverty allievation and wealth creation for our people".

"At a session, I was asked how many people were below the poverty line in Togo. I was not embarrassed. If it had been just 10 percent, instead of 60 percent, I would be here in India for tourism, not for them," said Houngbo, to a round of applause.

He felt that the India-African partnership has "reached a point of no return". "The only way is forward... the challenge is to deliver faster and more effectively," he added.

The Togoan leader, who had also attended last year's conclave, said that he had a "dream" to see this kind of gathering of India and African businessmen in his country's capital, Lome.

Stating the last decade had seen a "unprecedented expansion" in Indian-African ties, Vivek Katju, Secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, said the "new framework" of cooperation is for "mutual benefit through sustainable and consultative mechanisms".

"In settling priorities, we are guided by our African partners," said Katju.

He noted that India had three tiers of engagement with Africa - at the pan-African, regional and bilateral levels.

India has extended $5.4 billion worth of lines of credit to Africa for a period of five years, since 2009-10, as well as grants of $500 million.

These financial resources have an "effective catalyst" to move the Indian private sector to Africa. Katju also referred to the fact that 19 African countries have so far taken advantage of India's duty free tariff scheme for less developed countries.

The second India-Africa summit will be held in May at Addis Ababa, which hosts the headquarters of the African Union.

"The preparations for the summit are on track," Katju asserted, noting that he was confident that the partnership will go from strength to strength.

The current volume of trade between India and Africa is $45 billion, with a target of $75 billion set for 2015.








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