Pretoria – Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has reaffirmed the strategic importance of India’s relationship with Africa, however, he underscored the need for burgeoning trade relations to be propelled to the next level.
“We need to ensure that capacity building is focused on further expansion and leads to increases in trade between and amongst the African countries and India, as well as in investment in infrastructure development,” Motlanthe told the second Africa-India summit held in Addis Ababa on Wednesday.
Motlanthe commended the commitment of $18 billion worth of projects to Africa by the Indian businesses at the Business Forum Conclave held early this year, as well as the credit line India offered to Africa during the first Summit in 2008 — commitments made in a harsh economic environment in the aftermath of the recession.
“We, as African countries, need to ensure that we fully utilise such opportunities to the benefit of our people, especially since the shortage of finance experienced by Africa in this current economic situation depresses investment, deters growth and undermines the ability of our countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals,” said Motlanthe.
Currently, the World Bank estimates that Africa needs investment of $93 billion per year to address the infrastructure gap.
While the Deputy President acknowledged gains made in the agriculture, manufacturing and other sectors of the economy, he said there was still a need to explore ways of making more out of the partnership in order to stimulate employment creation in the various countries.
Motlanthe proposed that there should be a follow-up mechanism that will ensure monitoring and evaluation of progress made.
“With strict timeframes, this will assist Member States to remain focused and effectively implement the programmes and projects sponsored by this Forum,” said Motlanthe.
With Africa still trying to break through India’s highly regulated economic market and one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Motlanthe was hopeful that gains would be made through partnerships like the Africa-India Forum, IBSA and BRICS.
Working in concert with India, he was also confident that Africa can push for the conclusion of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Round of negotiations, which will ultimately see a more equitable global trade system. – BuaNews