The Journey so far!
The CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership, launched by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 2005, has emerged as a systematic and focused approach to work on projects in Africa. This initiative was launched by CII in 2005, with the support of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.
The Conclave has successfully been able to build a bridge between Indian and African business leaders as well senior government officials. The Conclave has emerged as one of the largest congregation of senior ministers, policy makers and business leaders from Africa and India, cutting across sectors.
The effectiveness of the CII EXIM Bank Conclave was best assessed by Mr Pranab Mukherjee, the then Minister of External Affairs, Government of India, in his keynote address at 5th CII EXIM Bank Conclave in 2009 when he said "the Conclave has become a prestigious event for Indian and African governments and industry to meet and explore new avenues of partnerships. The annual gathering enables the Indian and African leadership to take stock of the progress of the partnership and address future needs in this regard".
This was further reiterated when Mr Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce & Industry addressed the 6th Conclave. He said "the annual Conclave has opened up innumerable cross-border business opportunities. The presence of high-level delegations was proof enough, of the importance that Africa has attached to the Conclave".
The objectives that have guided the participation, deliberations and the growth process of the Conclave have evolved and grown with inputs and recommendations eceived at each Conclave. The CII Conclave is guided by the following objectives, and works towards:
- Promoting partnerships at the three levels:
- Increasing outreach of information on Indian enterprise in the identified sectors to Africa
- Increasing interaction between the Indian industry and Africa to address specific opportunities.
- Discussing possibilities for Indian participation in long term projects
- Initiation of programs related to capacity building, including resource mobilization for the same.
- Building upon the momentum gathered with the launch of the "India Africa Forum Summit" and take forward the actionable agenda put forward during the deliberations.
Among the growing number of participation, the three categories that can be distinguished clearly is that of the –
- Business seeking solutions, technologies and projects.
- Government representatives and often policy makers who are clearly seeking inputs from the business delegates to look at creating an enabling environment and facilitate two way investments andtrade with their country.
- Banks and financial institutions, which facilitate business and projects in the African countries.
The CII Conclave has also seen Indian companies looking for business opportunities that go beyond the Government of India lines of credit. CII has initiated dialogue with other financial institutions in the African region, with competitive credit facilities to support business effort by Indian companies. The annual CII Conclave is supported by the output of the Regional Conclaves organized by CII in two or three different hubs in Africa. At these hubs, CII invites the participation of the countries from that region and facilitates interaction with Indian business delegates who travel out.
Since 2005, CII has organized 13 Regional Conclaves, in Zambia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Cote d'Ivoire, Uganda, Senegal, Tanzania, Namibia, and Nigeria. In some of these countries, two Regional conclaves have been organized since 2005.
The essence of the CII Conclave has been to encourage Indian exporters to access the African countries and increase their presence in the region. A measure of success in this may be the numbers that attend the CIIEXIM Bank Conclave. The other measure is the number of MOUs that are signed and the value of projects that are discussed. We have achieved remarkable results from the last seven conclaves – 1288 projects worth USD 74.38 billions have been discussed in the 7 past editions which have also contributed towards over a 400% growth in bilateral trade in the last 5 years.
This multi-pronged target of increasing trade, investment and developmental activities requires a sustained and concentrated effort. The effort from CII has been to keep up the momentum and keep the Africa agenda on the forefront of Indian exporters. CII has continuously created programs and platforms to encourage Africans to meet with Indian partners. Breaking perceptions and creating confidence has been the first step in increased business engagement.
The increasing participation of the African nations in the CII led Conclaves and the growing relevance of the platform has given shape to policy dialogues of the Government of India, EXIM Bank and the industry. CII membership has greatly benefited from the platform and as an institution CII has shown its continuing commitment to the relationship.