Hello India, Africa’s $1 tn agriculture sector seeks suitors

Accra, June 4 (IANS) Here’s a heaven-sent opportunity for Indian investors: Africa’s $1 trillion agriculture sector is seeking suitors and a report has already been drawn up on how India can benefit.

“The agricultural sector is regarded as one of the most critical industries for the African continent due to economic potential and is projected to become a $1 trillion industry in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by 2030,” a Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) report said.

It came following a survey of respondents, 58.8 per cent of whom consider “investment in Africa as an opportunity for their businesses to expand”. They named the top four countries they are planning to invest in as Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa which all fall in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

And, as the Exim Bank of India is keen to direct more Indian investment to the SADC region, it looks like more emphasis would have to be put on agriculture and agribusiness.

The study has also identified natural resources, agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure as holding potential for Indian investors in the SADC region.

The Exim study, ‘Focus Africa: Enhancing India’s Engagements with Southern African Development Community (SADC)’ describes the region as of “strategic importance” as an investment destination for India. The community is made up of Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho and Madagascar.

The rest are Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Exim Bank said the 16 member states account for nearly 30 percent of Africa’s GDP and is the second-largest bloc (in terms of the economy’s size) in the continent, after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“For India especially, the SADC region is of strategic importance, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of its total trade with Africa, and a substantial portion of India’s investments, with major destinations like Mauritius, Mozambique and South Africa, among others,” the Exim Bank said.

The study said Indian multi-national enterprises (MNEs) have ventured into both greenfield and brownfield investments in the SADC region spanning various sectors including manufacturing, mining, construction and energy.

The study said records from the Indian Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of India showed that India approved cumulative investments $46.5 billion in the SADC region from April 1996 to March 2015. This means there is scope for further investments especially in areas that have not been considered in the past.

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at fkokutse@gmail.com <mailto:fkokutse@gmail.com>)

–IANS

francis/vm

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