Addis Ababa, July 15 (IANS) As part of a major push to expand Indian business investments across the African continent, a delegation of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is here interacting with Ethiopian business leaders and other major stakeholders in the growing economy of this east African nation.
The CII will be taking similar delegations to Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Namibia, Botswana and other west African countries.
The 14-member delegation, led by Subramanian Venkataraman, country head and CEO of State Bank of India, arrived in the capital of this east African nation Monday on a two-day visit with a tight programme in hand, including meetings with key stakeholders and exploring collaborative opportunities.
The visit comes as Ethiopia is posting strong economic growth, making rapid progress in poverty eradication and becoming self-sufficient in food.
"We felt that this is the right time to bring a business delegation so that the members get to understand these new opportunities in Ethiopia," E.B. Rajesh, international regional director of Africa, Gulf and Middle East in CII, told IANS here.
"The overall objective of this visit is to see and understand and get to know first-hand the new and emerging Ethiopia," he said.
The delegation has representatives from sectors like finance, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, food processing and information technology.
The programme for the two-day visit has been organised in such a way that delegation members can get to meet the right people in their respective fields.
They met the Ethiopian Investment Agency (EIA), the body that is responsible for investment-related issues, the Ethiopian Agriculture Investment and Land Administration Agency (EAILA), and interacted with CEOs of Ethiopian companies to explore collaborative opportunities.
The CII has been having regular engagements with Ethiopia for a long time, including organising a big India show during the last India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) in 2010.
"Since then, though we have not brought this kind of delegation from India, we are having regular interactions and delegation visits to India from Ethiopia like the 32-member delegation led by the Ethiopian ministry of industry," Rajesh said.
"Over the last couple of years, we have been following the growth of Ethiopia and the new developments and business opportunities."
Rajesh said that though there might have been reports of Indian companies not doing what they might have promised due to various reasons, yet there were ample examples of positive work done by Indian companies.
"That is the reason that two or three companies represented in this delegation are looking at and already have decided to have their own presence in Ethiopia," he said.
Rajesh said Indian companies have expertise in areas like construction, power infrastructure and railways.
"Most of the Indian construction companies in other African countries have joined hands with local governments in undertaking such public utility projects," he pointed.
Besides, Ethiopia being an agrarian economy, Indian companies can look at the agriculture and agro-processing sectors like supplying seeds, and exporting or distributing tractors and irrigation equipment, he said.
"Having already got exposure of doing businesses with various other African countries, it is time to take it to the next level," Rajesh said, adding that this might include local joint ventures to expand Indian business in Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular.
Following Ethiopia, the delegation will be travelling to the west African nation of Mali where there has not been much of Indian investment, the CII official said.
(Hadra Ahmed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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