India keen to buy minerals from Africa: Sharma

August 9th, 2011 - 9:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 9 (IANS) India is looking forward to partner with African countries for buying minerals as well supporting them with technology for mining and exploration, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said Tuesday.

“India is keen to partner with countries in Africa not only for buying minerals but also providing technology for mining and exploration and value addition with long-term buy-back commitments,” Sharma said while inaugurating the Africa manual 2011 here.

“India’s infrastructure investments in Africa are in the range of $500 million annually in the last decade,” he added.

The minister said that the government is having a dialogue with the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) for concluding a trading agreement and is optimistic to conclude it by December 2011.

“We have been given the mandate to start engagement with the common market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and we will be initiating a dialogue with the economic community of West African States (ECOWAS) for exploring the possibility of free trade agreements with these countries, said Sharma.

The partnership between India and Africa is on a constant rise. Pan African e-Network is another example in this which is bridging the digital divide between both the regions. The $125 million pan African e-Network project aims to cover 10,000 students in Africa over a five-year period through 34 learning centres, teaching centres and 15 universities.

The bilateral trade has increased 15-fold within a decade from $3 billion in 2000 to $46 billion in 2010 and the government is determined to achieve a target of $ 70 billion trade well before 2014.

India is a $1.6 trillion economy, home to one of the largest middle class in the world, which is projected to cross 500 million in the coming decade, said Sharma.

Sharma also noted that the African continent has witnessed consistent growth in excess of 5 percent in the last few years and projections indicate African GDP would reach $2.6 trillion within this decade.

It has received foreign investment of nearly $60 billion last year as against just $7 billion in 2002.

Sharma also stressed upon the importance of agro economy saying that agriculture has remained a high priority for India and partnership with African agriculture sector is already beginning to take shape.

Over 80 Indian agricultural companies have invested around $ 2.5 billion in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal and Mozambique.

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