India presses for quicker business visas to Africa

March 6th, 2008 - 5:51 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) Ahead of the India-Africa partnership forum summit in April, Indian businesspersons have pressed for quicker business visas from African countries. The Indian side will take up the issue of visas with ministers accompanying leaders of 14 countries who will be coming here to participate in the first-ever India-Africa summit, official sources said here Thursday.

The move can go a long way in enhancing trade and investment between the two sides.

“We want multi-entry business visas of longer duration, from one to five years for business travellers,” Arun Aggarwal, industrialist and chairperson of the Assocham’s committee on international affairs, said at a meeting of the India-Africa Economic Forum here Wednesday evening.

Agarwal, who also heads the Africa division in the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), said that Indian businessmen have often complained about difficulties in getting business visas from some African countries. This discourages Indian businessmen from investing in Africa, he added.

He, however, made a strong pitch for Indian private enterprises to invest in the vibrant economies of Africa and sought to ally anxieties about security concerns some businessmen may have about doing business in the African continent. “Some parts of Africa are more secure than anywhere in the world,” he said.

Uganda’s High Commissioner to India Nimisha Madhvani, an Indian-origin Ugandan, agreed with the need for more business travel but added that visa was not an issue with her country. “We give visa on arrival. So get ready to invest in Uganda.”

Uganda is looking for investment in agro-processing and infrastructure development, she said.

Former foreign secretary Shashank underlined the close historical and cultural ties between India and Africa and said it was time to accelerate economic engagement between India and Africa.

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to India Jonathan Wutawunashe urged both sides to leverage their strengths for a mutually profitable engagement. “India has got things Africa needs. Africa has got things India needs. We need more constructive energy to energise us,” he said.

India’s economic ties with Africa are set to get a boost at a three-day conclave starting March 19 in which ministers and business people from over 20 African countries will participate.

India’s bilateral trade with Africa is steadily growing and is estimated to be over $20 billion.

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