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India plans to finance expansion of trade and investment in Africa

The Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of India plans to boost investment in Africa by encouraging more companies to use lines of credit to fund “transformational change”, the head of the bank has said.

Bank chairman and managing director, Yaduvendra Mathur, told this week’s 10th India-Africa project partnership ‘conclave’ between the bank and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) that representatives are being sent to several African nations where there is an “under-utilisation” of financial support on offer.

Indian lines of credit have already helped to expand the sugar and power sectors and development of railway networks in Ethiopia, Mathur added.

The conclave, in New Delhi, also saw the release of a CII-McKinsey report which said India can aspire to quadruple its revenues from Africa to $160 billion by 2025, by developing its presence in sectors such as information technology services, agriculture, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods.

However the report said that to be “a true solutions partner, Indian industry needs to continually engage with governments and businesses, proactively surface opportunities through sector and country studies, build an open consortia of interested companies in advance, and use funding from low-cost countries (like Japan) for large projects where Indian cost of funds is a disadvantage”.

India’s commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma told the conclave that agriculture and food security, healthcare and life sciences, infrastructure, energy, mining and development of small and medium enterprises were among “priority areas” for partnerships. Sharma cited the ministry’s buyers credit facility for supporting Indian companies’ participation in African infrastructure projects.

Bilateral India-Africa trade has grown by nearly 32% annually between 2005 and 2011, including through the global economic crisis, according to a CII-World Trade Organization report published in 2013. The report said India-Africa trade is projected to reach $90bn by 2015.

According to the report, there has been “a surge in Indian private investment in Africa with 'big ticket' investments” in sectors such as telecommunications, energy and cars. The value of bilateral trade jumped from $5.3bn in 2001 to $12bn in 2005 and to $63bn in 2011, which the report said is higher than India’s bilateral trade with the US at $56bn.

The report added: “African exports to India have been growing annually at 32.2% while Indian exports to Africa grew annually at 23.6%.

A separate McKinsey Quarterly article, published last month, said private equity is also projected to grow rapidly across Africa. The article said continent-wide demand for capital should increase by 8% a year between now and 2018, while annual growth could reach 20% in “resource-rich Angola” and nine other countries, with $50bn in total investment possible over the next decade.

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