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India Aims to Integrate Africa Into Global Value Chains: Expert

© AP Photo / Evan VucciIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, shares a light moment with African Union Chairman
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, shares a light moment with African Union Chairman - Sputnik India, 1920, 12.09.2023
The African continent, having vast natural resources, saw its moment of reckoning arrive on Saturday as it became a member of the G20 grouping under India's presidency.
India will assist Africa to become an important partner in global value chains amid surging focus on the continent's vast reserves of critical metals like cobalt, which is essential to produce lithium-ion batteries that power several electronic goods at present, a strategic affairs expert has said.

The remarks of Abhishek Mishra, an associate fellow associated with India's premier geopolitical think tank Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), come days after the African Union (AU), a body of 55 countries, was formally inducted as a member of the G20 following a massive push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India- Africa Ties Get a Strategic Push Under Modi's Leadership

In this context, the think tanker stated that ever since PM Modi's administration took charge in 2014, there has been a visible commitment to correct a grievance that was shared by many African leaders, i.e. the lack of political and government-to-government relations between India and African countries.
However, he pointed out that this grievance has since been rectified as demonstrated by the continued, high-level political visits from both sides over the last decade.
Also, Mishra mentioned that India has opened new resident missions in Africa in a phased manner, totaling 47 presently, in countries like Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Somalia, among others.

Africa's Economic Weight Shouldn't Be Overlooked

"India has always been vocal about the need for increasing African participation and integrating African voices in multilateral institutions like the UNSC, WTO, and IMF as demonstrated by India's strong support for the Common African Position, which is stated in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration," Mishra told Sputnik India on Tuesday.
The international relations analyst observed that as of 2023, Africa's GDP is estimated to be $3.1 trillion and a population of over 1.3. billion. Hence, a significant proportion of global growth will be driven by the continent, and that's why its economic weight should not be overlooked.

In his view, African countries needed a seat at the high table and decision-making process to drive agenda and discussions on issues that have a direct and asymmetrical impact on the continent's future, growth and development, such as debt-relief and climate change, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and digital public infrastructure.

Opportunity to Understand Africa's Growth Priorities

Mishra expressed that the inclusion of the African Union gives the other 19 members and the European Union a chance to understand the developmental priorities of the African continent as enshrined in the Agenda 2063, which is a blueprint for transforming the continent into a global powerhouse.
"It allows countries to tailor their bilateral engagement strategies with African priorities such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Integrated High-Speed Rail Network, African Commodities Strategy, Silencing the Guns, Single African Air Transport Market, among others," the specialist on African affairs emphasized.
Mishra opined that trade and investment is a key component of India's overall Africa policy, with current trade amounting to $98 billion and cumulative investments reaching $75 billion.

Operationalization of African Continental Free Trade Area to Benefit Indian Investors

He insisted that with the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Indian private sector investors now have access to a larger and unified African market to tap into.

Mishra suggested that due to the economic burdens from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, African countries are more interested in foreign direct investment (FDI) rather than taking up more loans through India's Lines of Credit (LOC) program.

Innovative Finance Need of the Hour

He added that the need of the hour is to explore other innovative ways of financing such as public-private partnerships, blended finance, etc.
"Already India's EXIM Bank has launched a new initiative like the Trade Assistance Program under which Indian companies will receive partial or full guarantees to cover payment risks on banks in the least developed countries. So far, 26 African countries have been identified to benefit from this program," Mishra explained.
In essence, he summed up that India was aiming to help Africa integrate into the global value chains and export Indian innovations in IT, digital technology, knowledge, and skill transfer through the Indian private sector.
Narendra Modi, G20  - Sputnik India, 1920, 09.09.2023
G-20 Summit in New Delhi
Modi Announces Inclusion of African Union to G-20 As Permanent Member