Governor’s address at the inauguration of the VIII Annual Mega Event ‘I for Afrika’
Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the inauguration of the VIII Annual Mega Event ‘I for Afrika’ – Conference and Exhibition organized by the Indo African Chamber of Commerce & Industry at Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon, Mumbai at 1100 hrs on Tuesday 27 September 2016
Their Excellencies Honourable Ministers from African countries, Ambassadors, Consuls and diplomats from African countries, Shri K L Daga, President, Indo African Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Smt Sunanda Rajendran, Secretary General, Indo African Chamber, delegates, participants, business leaders, invitees, ladies and gentlemen,
I am indeed delighted to welcome Their Excellencies Honourable Ministers from African countries, Ambassadors, diplomats, trade representatives and delegates to this grand Mega Event. I welcome you to India, to our State of Maharashtra and to the capital city of Mumbai.
For the people of India, Africa is the land where the Father of our Nation Mahatma Gandhi started his epic struggle for justice and independence that eventually won him the title ‘Mahatma Gandhi’. We therefore welcome you not only with open arms but with an open heart.
There could not have been a more opportune time to organize this event, ‘I for Afrika’.
Only last year, New Delhi had hosted the Third Africa Forum Summit in which Heads of State and Heads of Government from many African countries had participated.
I look at the ‘I for Afrika’ engagement as the next major step to cement our ties and translate the ideas and visions of our nations into reality, for the betterment of our businesses and for the empowerment of our people.
The Indo African Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by Mr K L Daga and the most energetic Secretary General Mrs Sunanda Rajendran deserves our wholehearted compliments and support for its consistent efforts in strengthening and broadening Indo African relations for more than three decades.
I have no doubt in my mind that ‘I for Afrika’ will go a long way in realizing the dream of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi of increasing India’s trade volume with Africa to US $ 100 billion from the existing $ 72 billion within the next few years.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am all the more delighted that this grand event is taking place in Mumbai.
While the State of Maharashtra is the growth engine of India’s economy, Mumbai happens to the commercial capital of India. Maharashtra is also one of the most progressive States in the country and the most attractive destination for foreign investors.
Maharashtra is India’s leading industrial state contributing 13 per cent of national industrial output. Pharmaceuticals, Petrochemicals, Heavy Chemicals, Electronics, Automobiles, Engineering, Food Processing and Plastics are some of the major industries in the state. The city of Mumbai houses the headquarters of top banking and financial institutions in the country. It is also home to Bollywood, perhaps the biggest film industry in the world.
Initiatives such as the ‘Make in India’, Digital India, Smart Cities Mission, Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, Start Up India Mission and others have created immense possibilities for the growth of business and commerce in India. This is therefore right time for Africa to foster close cooperation with India.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As the theme of the mega event rightly puts it, ‘Africa is the next frontier for Entrepreneurs’.
The biggest strength for India and Africa is our youthful population. India and Africa constitute one-third of the world’s population. A large majority of them are youths. The future of this youthful population will shape the course and destiny of the world to a great extent.
There are three major areas in which I foresee opportunities and possibilities for cooperation.
As Governor of Maharashtra, I also happen to be the Chancellor of 20 public universities in Maharashtra. The total student enrollment in all universities in Maharashtra is estimated at 3 million. As you may be aware, many African students are pursuing higher and professional education in Maharashtra, particularly in Pune. I was pleased to note that during the past three years alone, some 25000 African students have been trained or graduated from India. These India –educated students are Brand Ambassadors of India in their respective countries.
We have excellent opportunities in the areas of human resource development through education, apprenticeship and skill development education. As Governor and as Chancellor of Universities, I assure you of my fullest support in promoting student – exchange and faculty exchanges between universities in Maharashtra and universities in Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Africa has 60 per cent of the arable land in the world but produces 10 per cent of the global food output. Likewise, India has traditionally been an agricultural country with more than sixty percent people depending on agriculture for their livelihood. After the successful launch of the First Green Revolution in the 1960s India has made tremendous progress in Agriculture and extension services.
This State of Maharashtra is a leader in horticulture, dairy and fisheries. Maharashtra is also home to four agriculture universities and one university for animal sciences, dairy and fisheries. Considerable research is taking place in our agricultural universities and research institutions. Our universities have innovated some of the most useful agricultural implements and machines. I think India and Africa can work closely in knowledge and technology sharing in agriculture while also focusing on post-harvest processing and supply chain.
India has had a long and deep connection with Africa. People of Indian origin have been living and working in Africa, doing businesses there for decades and centuries. Indians are therefore familiar with Africa and can become natural partners in progress and development.
Africa is a treasure of tourism. India has a growing upper middle class. This group is exploring the world like never before. Indians are travelling not just within the country, but also across nations and continents. I often say that gone are the days when the world spoke of Communism, Socialism and other ‘isms’. Today the only ‘Ism’ that matters is tourism. Tourism can prove mutually rewarding for India and Africa.
I will suggest the Hon’ble Ministers and Ambassadors from African countries to plan a major tourism event in Mumbai to attract Indian tourists to African tourism destinations. I am sure, tourism will benefit India and Africa immensely.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The performance of Africa in the recently concluded Rio Olympics Games was impressive. The collective medals tally for the African countries stood at a respectable 45, better than the previous Beijing Olympics. Every year Mumbai, Delhi and other cities host Marathon events. I am happy to state that the top winners in these events are invariably Africans. Africa has produced some of the top athletes, runners and other sportspersons. I hope to see Indo-African cooperation in sports and cultural arena also.
I am very happy that the organizers have planned Business to Business meetings and training sessions for the distinguished participants. I am sure, the discourse and dialogue will bring out new ideas for cooperation in different areas.
India and Africa have emergent common challenges like food security, energy security, terrorism and climate change. It is necessary that we should have cooperative mechanisms for exchange of views, consultation and for working out common strategies for addressing these pressing issues.
With these words, I compliment the Indo African Chamber of Commerce and Industry for organizing the Mega Event ‘I for Afrika’ once again. I welcome all the delegates and wish you fruitful meetings and great stay in India. Long live Indo – Africa friendship.