Intertwining Indo-African dreams
India and Africa are intertwined by their history of freedom struggles against their colonial rulers, as also by their future, pursuing similar developmental strategies to bring prosperity to their citizens. Underlying our strong political relationship are common political perspectives on issues like terrorism, <g data-gr-id="26">security</g> of ocean routes, <g data-gr-id="27">larger</g> geopolitical role for developing countries and convergence of interests on climate change. Equally important, the synergy of our economic relations is bolstered by the natural economic complementarity of our respective comparative advantages, the raison d’etre of mutually beneficial trade among equals, generating most optimal “Win-Win” options for both of us.
In fact, the Indian developmental model, especially post-liberalisation of 1991, predicated on <g data-gr-id="18">large scale</g> public investments in critical infrastructure, followed by domestic entrepreneurial initiatives in consumer goods and services, in a democratic setting, is proving to be a sustainable option and role model for many African countries. India needs immense natural resources to lift its teeming millions out of poverty. We need metals, minerals, coal, oil and gas, to build cities and run industries. Africa needs technology and investments, to leverage their natural resources, but on equal and fair terms, which India offers. Indian technology is “Triple A”, – “Appropriate, Affordable and Adaptable”, which is best for Africa.
The Continent with the youngest population needs capacity building of its manpower, which Indian companies do well. For instance, the African infrastructure in the hinterland is being built by project companies like OIA, involving construction of thousands of kilometres of electricity transmission and distribution and rural electrification lines or hundreds of kilometres of water pipelines or massive agro-processing plants. We engage local firms and manpower to execute an increasing proportion of the jobs, as they pick up expertise working with us on various projects.
The transfer of <g data-gr-id="19">knowhow</g> to local partners makes perfect business sense for Indian private sector <g data-gr-id="20">players,</g> since localisation progressively reduces costs of execution. Significantly, the infrastructure built by Indian firms is changing the face of African economies, since it is not aimed at extracting their natural wealth but linking up with their people, lighting up homes and energising industries and magnifying African agricultural productivity. When the top African leaders arrive in October, Modi is sure to make India-Africa development combination unparalleled and unbeatable.