‘Made in India’ label should inspire confidence in Africa : Zimbabwean envoy (Interview)

New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) People in the African continent need to be made aware of the changes in India and that “Made in India” products can be of high quality, says a senior African diplomat based here.

“People in Africa also need to be made aware that Made in India is of high quality because colonialism has given a mentality that India cannot make high quality things.

“Awareness is a big issue in the India-Africa economic relationship,” Jonathan Wutawunashe, ambassador of Zimbabwe in India, said in an interview to IANS.

There would be “spontaneous commerce” between Africa and India if conscious effort is made to promote awareness about the two regions, observes Wutawunashe, who is the dean of the large African diplomatic corps in India.

He said lack of adequate information and awareness about Africa in India and vice versa had been hindering two-way trade and investment, which can lead to job and wealth creation in both the regions.

“There was a disconnect (earlier), but the good news now is that it is going away,” he said.

Wutawunashe, who came to India 10 years ago, said he had been witness to a growing economic relationship that has changed from the time when few Indian businessmen would make “initial, nervous, sceptical enquiries” about doing business in Africa.

“The economic relationship between India and Africa is on the upswing, and there would be more spontaneous commerce between both if there was a conscious effort to promote it more,” he added.

The envoy said the 9th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership held last month here had helped to an extent.

“This conclave had a good proportion of MoUs (signed) that actually amount to something. We see this, for instance, from the visa applications to Africa from those who have never been there and now want to go to follow up on the conclave discussions with business counterparts,” he said.

From the levels of less than $5 billion in 2000, bilateral trade between India and Africa touched $60 billion 2011-12. It is targeted to reach $100 billion by 2015.

The ambassador said that good business opportunities were available in most of the 54 countries in Africa and Indian companies should take advantage of that.

Wutawunashe cited the example of Zimbabwe, which is rich in resources like coal, gold and platinum and could benefit from Indian expertise in the extraction and value addition.

“From the point of leveraging of resources, Africa has the energy resources and India has the technological resources. There is now an increasing matching of both and more to-ing and fro-ing by business of both areas,” said Wutawunashe

At the India-Zimbabwe Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting in Harare last month, India offered to consider Lines of Credit (LOC) proposals valued at $400 million to Zimbabwe. The latter, in turn, promised to look into delays in issuing visas to businessmen.

Zimbabwe has sought India’s help in reviving its manufacturing sector and sought investments and technical assistance in capacity building programmes and establishing a commodity exchange in Zimbabwe.

(Biswajit Choudhury can be contacted at bisw[email protected])

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