India boosts presence in West Africa with trade, cooperation
Accra, May 18 (IANS) India's footprint is growing in West Africa, especially in two main players in the region, Nigeria and Ghana, with increased trade across sectors and cooperation in various other fields.
India is helping Nigeria revitalise its Defence Industries Corporation through a public-private partnership programme, according to Mahesh Sachdev, Indian High Commissioner in Abuja.
India is also assisting Nigeria in its fight against terror by sharing specialised training, equipment, strategy and intelligence. The cooperation is under a memorandum of understanding on defence that the two countries signed in 2007.
Since last year, Boko Haram, a group intent on setting up an Islamic state in Nigeria, has stepped up bombing attacks in the country that have killed many.
Sachdev said India was ready to help Nigeria develop its defence sector.
"We have the experience and we are ready to share that experience with Nigeria. But you decide in what areas our experience is relevant to you, and in what areas we can be of help," Sachdev told IANS, adding Nigeria is a sovereign country and it should therefore decide on which direction to go.
In Ghana, Food and Agriculture Minister Kwesi Ahwoi said his government was negotiating with India on financing the construction of a fish processing plant in Elmina, in the country's central region.
In July this year, the Confederation of Indian Industries will hold a three-day "India Show" in Accra. The trade show would provide a platform for Indian firms and their Ghanaian counterparts to network with the key stakeholders like policymakers, captains of industry, financial institutions and business solutions providers.
The show is an initiative that promotes "Brand India" and Indian industry overseas, especially in developing and developed countries with Indian population and demand for Indian products and technologies.
India's High Commissioner to Ghana, Rajinder Bhagat, said the show is expected to attract over 100 Indian companies from agriculture, construction, consumer durables, pharmaceuticals and textiles among others. In addition, he said, the show would strengthen corporate ties between West Africa and India.
With these various engagements, two-way trade in the region has shot up considerably in volume and value.
Trade between Nigeria and India was valued at $16.4 billion (N2.5 trillion) in 2011. According to the India High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria's exports to India stood at $12.4 billion in 2011, representing a 71 per cent increase over the previous year, while India's exports to Nigeria grew by 58 per cent to $22 billion.
Adil Zaidi of consultancy Ernst & Young Adil Zaidi told a workshop in Abuja that the trade with India could improve further if Nigeria could formulate good policies for business development.
Indian investors, he said, would be able to increase trade between the two countries by investing in power generation and transmission, transportation, water, petroleum, renewable energy and healthcare.
(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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