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Inaugural Address by EAM, Dr. S. Jaishankar at the 18th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave

Posted on: June 14, 2023 | Back | Print

Your Excellency, Vice President Chiwenga of Zimbabwe,
Your Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Economy, Excellency Kanyiginyi of Democratic Republic of Congo,
Mr. R. Dinesh, President of CII,
Mr. Noel Tata, Chairman, CII Africa Committee
Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General CII,
Ms. Harsha Bangari, Managing Director EXIM Bank,
Mr. S. Kuppuswamy, Co-chairman of CII Africa Committee,
Corporate Leaders,
Distinguished guests,

I am delighted to address the Special Plenary of the 18th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave’s on India-Africa Growth Partnership. This year’s emphasis has shifted from project partnership to growth partnership, very much in keeping with the spirit of the theme "Creating Shared Futures’’. I believe that the dignitaries, corporate minds, domain specialists and scholars have deliberated upon various subjects of mutual interest; whether it is building strong financial partnerships and infrastructure transformation or space sector cooperation and fostering value chains in agriculture and food processing. My contribution is to present a larger picture in which this unfolds.

India and Africa have longstanding trade and economic linkages, as indeed they do in people-to-people contacts. India staunchly supported African countries in their quest to attain independence and to fight against colonialism and apartheid. This is important to recall because our ties are not transactional but represent the solidarity of a shared struggle. Africa therefore occupies an important place in India’s foreign policy. During the last nine years, this has been consciously stepped up under the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Our engagement with the continent has since witnessed 36 high level visits from India and more than 100 high level visits from Africa to India.

The same empathy also shapes how we approach each other. India believes in forging a development partnership with Africa that is based on the needs and the priorities of our partners. This was clearly articulated by Prime Minister Modi as the core of the Kampala Principles that he enunciated in 2018. We are there for the long-term, with a focus on promoting capabilities and creating capacities. For India, and it is important that our African partners appreciate this, for India, the rise of Africa is key to global rebalancing.

Being a trusted partner of Africa in its journey of socio-economic development, India has extended concessional loans of over US$ 12.37 billion. In that framework, we have completed 197 projects, 65 more are currently under execution and 81 are at the pre-execution stage. Since 2015, India has also extended substantial grant assistance. Our projects range from drinking water schemes, irrigation, rural solar electrification, power plants and transmission lines to cement, sugar & textile factories, technology parks and railway infrastructure. They have generated local employment even as they change the life of many people in Africa.

During the pandemic, India continued unabated its engagement with Africa. Infact the 15th and 16th editions of the CII-Exim Bank Africa Conclave were actually held, though they were held virtually. To support our friends in Africa, India provided medical support to 32 countries. Since January 2021 till March 2023 we supplied ‘Made in India’ Covid vaccines to 42 countries of the continent. This was in line with our Prime Minister’s vision of "One Earth One Health” and our civilizational belief in "Vasudaiva Kutumbakam”. We are now encouraging Indian pharma manufacturers and vaccine manufacturers to explore joint manufacturing facilities in the African countries. Equally important, we have battled in the WTO along with our African partners for enhancing the accessibility and affordability of vaccines.

As we today move towards a knowledge economy, the importance of human resources needs to be appreciated. India is committed to enhance capacity building & skill development among African youth. We have delivered 42,000 scholarships since the IAFS-III Summit in 2015. It is a matter of pride for us that several high ranking leaders, ministers and officials from Africa have studied in Indian universities. Apart from these, a number of students and officials from Africa have also trained under the ITEC program.

In a more technology friendly world, our attention has now shifted to providing high quality virtual education and medical services. The e-VidyaBharti and e-ArogyaBharti network was launched in 2019 for tele-education and tele-medicine. Under this initiative, over 14,000 youth from 22 African countries have enrolled for various degrees and diploma courses. India has partnered African countries in promoting digital transformation through setting-up of IT Centres, S&T Parks and Enterpreneur Development Centre (EDC), etc. Where the digital domain is concerned, India’s emphasis on trust and transparency makes it a natural partner for Africa.

As we look ahead, our development partnership focusses strongly on Digital, on Green, on Health, on Food and on Water. These, we believe, are the pressing priorities of Africa today. And in each case, India’s recent experiences are worth sharing. Our digital delivery of public goods has had a transformational impact on Indian society, taking the message of inclusiveness to the last mile. Our deployment of green technologies has similarly penetrated from the biggest industry to the last individual. Our Covid response, pharmaceutical production and the People’s Pharmacy initiative, Jan Aushadi initiative, have all been of deep interest in Africa. Similarly, the quest for food and water security sees us as shared and committed partners.

On the trade and economic front, India’s bilateral trade with Africa has reached US$ 98 billion in 2022-23 compared to US$ 89.6 billion of previous year. I am confident that our bilateral trade will soon cross the US$ 100 billion mark.

Through the Duty Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) Scheme that extends duty free access to 98.2 per cent of India’s total tariff lines, India opened its market to African countries, and so far 33 LDC African nations are entitled to get benefit. I hope that African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) which has commenced in 2021 will be helpful for Indian companies to enhance their business footprint in Africa. With cumulative investments at US$ 73.9 billion from 1996-2021, India, I should emphasize, is among the top five large investors in Africa and I am sure this will grow in the times to come.


You are all aware that during the Indian Presidency of the G-20, 3 African countries - Egypt, Mauritius and Nigeria – are participating in the deliberations, in addition to South Africa. Through the Voice of Global South Summit in January this year, we sought to encapsulate the key concerns of Africa and place them before the G20. One important result of that was at the Varanasi G20 Ministerial Meeting of Development Ministers yesterday, we got unanimous agreement on a 2023 Action Plan on Accelerating Progress of the Sustainable Development Goals, as also the adoption of the High Level Principles on Lifestyles for Sustainable Development. Both outcomes have a direct implication for Africa’s progress and prosperity.

India has always stood by our friends in times of need. We have extended our assistance and support in the form of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), often as a first responder. Operation Sahayata to assist cyclone IDAI-hit Mozambique in 2019, Operation Vanilla to provide relief to flood victims in Madagascar in January 2020, and the assistance to Mauritius in containing the oil spill due to the grounding of the ship MV Wakashio are three notable examples. We very much hope that more African countries would join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) that was launched by Prime Minister Modi in 2019.

India’s engagement with African countries in the defence sector has also witnessed meaningful growth. The 2nd India-Africa Defence Dialogue held in October 2022 at Gandhinagar had seen significant participation of Defence Ministers from Africa. We are already building on a tradition of training by the supply of equipment with necessary support that is appropriate to Africa’s current needs.

India is keen to share its experiences and know-how to help Africa in its energy transition through rapid deployment of clean energy technologies. In the renewable energy sector, India has now taken a lead of bringing together international coalitions through the International Solar Alliance (ISA), and I am very glad Sir, that you referred to it, which provides a dedicated platform for cooperation among various stakeholders in the Government and private sector.

Prime Minister Modi has also recently launched an innovative Mission LiFE – Lifestyle for Environment. It is a very simple Mantra for protecting our Planet from effects of climate change by adjusting our life style and adopting environmentally sustainable practices. I would invite our friends in Africa to join us in this endeavor also.

This year, we are celebrating the UN International Year of Millets. Millets are important because they generate livelihoods, they increase farmers’ income and they ensure food & nutritional security all over the world while being environmentally friendly. I would encourage our partner countries in Africa to promote the cultivation and consumption of Millets on a larger scale and would like to underline that India would be prepared to work with them in this regard. This is as much a traditional foodgrain for Africa as it is for India.

Let me also take this occasion to express my gratitude and appreciation to the Governments of Egypt, South Sudan and Chad, among other friendly countries, for extending their full support to us in the evacuation of more than 4000 Indian community members from Sudan.


In the last few weeks, I have had the occasion to visit Uganda, Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia. I expect to visit Tanzania very soon and many other African partners after that. In these visits, I rode a Made in India suburban train and went to a pharma production center in Mozambique. I inaugurated a Forensic University in Uganda, and witnessed the impact of the Param Super Computer at an IT Center of Excellence, that we also formally inaugurated in Namibia. And you all heard from our two distinguished African leaders, of other examples where India has partnered with Africa to transform lives. To me, these are but a few possibilities that our friendship offers. And I sincerely hope that your deliberations can make that as expansive and as ambitious as possible.

Thank you very much for you attention.