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India showcases its businesses in Ghana

 
As Africa grows in strategic and economic importance for India, a three-day exposition showcasing Indian businesses and what they have to offer to this 54-nation continent opens in the Ghanaian capital on July 9. It will be partnered by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional grouping and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) with the support of the Indian government.

"Over 100 business leaders, accompanied by the Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles (Anand Sharma) are expected to attend the show," a statement from the Indian high commission in Accra said.

The business delegation will be led by Vikramjit Singh Sahney, Chairman and CEO of the Sun Group, and includes representatives from sectors such as agriculture and allied activities, including food processing, services including health, IT, ITeS, telecom and financial services, value-added manufacturing, including mining and minerals, energy, infrastructure, construction, consumer durables, pharmaceuticals, science and technology, textiles and education.

The three-day event comes on the back of India's increased trade with Africa.

"Trade has risen from USD25 billion in 2006-07 to USD53.3 billion in 2010-11 due to rise in both exports to and imports from the African region. India's exports to Africa have risen from USD10.3 billion in 2006-07 to USD20.9 billion in 2010-11, primarily due to increase in exports of transport equipment and petroleum products," the high commission statement said.

It said that even though India has signed trade agreements with almost all West African countries, 'the quantum of trade and investments between India and these countries remains rather moderate'. It attributed this to 'lack of infrastructural facilities and other trade amenities'.

"With the unfolding of the new economic global landscape focussing on strengthening South-South synergies, West Africa with its strong economic fundamentals holds great promise for the future. West Africa constitutes 18.25 percent of Africa's total GDP and 30 percent of its total population," the statement said.

The region is India's second largest trade partner in value terms amongst the five sub-regions of Africa. In addition, Africa's economy has expanded by 3.7 per cent in 2011-12, and is expected to grow by 5.5 per cent in 2012-13.

Accordingly, the statement said, this would help create 'new opportunities for trade and investment in sectors like mining and metals, oil and gas, hotels and tourism, consumer products, construction and telecommunication'.

The statement said that the region's service sector has been performing well, and has contributed much to GDP growth.

"In the telecom sector, the penetration rate in some countries is even higher than India's. Rising income and adoption of modern technologies have given rise to demand of ICT and related services," it added.

"India's commanding position in these sectors gives it the advantage over other players to engage with the West African states. The other upcoming sector is automobiles. Tata is an important player in a host of countries, with its buses that have mass appeal. Indian autorickshaws are also becoming known, as they are demanded as a means of transport to offset the lack of other public transport systems," the statement said.

Noting that India has gone through a phase of broadening its industrial base, the statement said: "India has many lessons to offer countries in West Africa."

"In fact, conditions in the West African region are peculiar. Severely affected by climate change-related issues, it is important to take into account the environmental costs while looking at activities that will ensure economic as well as social returns. India has an opportunity to become a part of Africa's growth story by engaging in such sectors through innovations relevant to these countries," the statement added.

It said: "The most important sector with assured social returns and equally good economic returns would be the agriculture sector".

"The wide range of activities provides a great opportunity for India to share its experience of the Green Revolution with these countries," the report said.

"Other sectors with high social and economic returns are health and education. While telecommunication and ICT offer social returns, the economic benefits are much larger," it said.

The statement said that the choice of Ghana for this year's exhibition is due to the country's 'economic and political stability, a fully liberalised economy with government commitment to private sector development and a rich natural resource base'.

Ghana is also gradually becoming a gateway to the ECOWAS, with a strategic market of 240 million people and a central location in terms of sub-regional, regional and international trade.