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A business forum launched to engage with Africa

New Delhi, Aug 11 (Calcutta Tube) To mark the increased engagement of India and Africa, a new forum has been launched to encourage more intense economic and business collaboration, powered by a shared interest in forging mutually advantageous ties.

The first meeting of Indo-Africa Business Forum was held Tuesday night, with visiting Ugandan Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Minister Hope Mwesigye in attendance. Mwesigye, who is on a short visit to India, said that there was vast scope for Indian businesses to harness the opportunities in Africa, especially in her country, Uganda.

‘If you do business in Uganda, then you have the entire continent of Africa as your market,’ she said.

Ugandan High Commissioner Nimisha Madhavani suggested that a larger launch for the business forum could be done in her country in the presence of high-level officials.

She also lobbied for Indian business groups to looking at the possibility of investing in the civil aviation sector. ‘I hope that top Indian airline majors visit Uganda, so that they can look at the opportunity for (setting up) intra-African airline networks – with Uganda as the hub,’ she said.

According to Kedar Nath Gupta, the convenor of the forum, the idea for the body was inspired by former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. ‘He told us, Africa is the future,’ he said.

Kalam had been the driving force behind India’s biggest IT initiative, the Pan-Africa e-network, which links educational and medical institutes in Africa with premier Indian institutions.

India-Africa trade has reached $35 billion, mostly steered by its interest in energy, initially by state companies. But it has since diversified to cover a wide number of sectors from pharmaceuticals, automotives to agriculture, mostly by the private sector.

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