An interview with Mr. Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India

  • August 23, 2017

“Assistance beyond Lines of Credit”

Please elaborate on the role of the Indian Government and EXIM Bank in the implementation of development projects in Africa.

The Export-Import Bank of India or the EXIM Bank mainly offers‘Line of Credit’. The announcement of a US$ 10 billion line of credit over the next five years, by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi,at the India Africa Forum Summit 2015 was a great success. Itmarked a new beginning in our approach to engage with African countries in a more constructive manner.Currently, the EXIM Bank of India is extending that Line of Credit, under which loan is given forvarious African projects at aconcessional rate of interest. The Government of India provides that interest differential between the concessional rate and the market rate of interest. Therefore, African projects that have multiplier effects get loan at concessional rates, which they use for implementing projects in the area of infrastructure, water-supply and the like. Apart from that, the Government of India also extends its grand support by contributing to capacity building, Information Technology (IT)training, technical assistance and higher education.

Is the EXIM Bank able to cater to the local needs of the population of Africa?

The EXIM Bank has a long-standing presence in various African countries. Our officials are very active and they are interacting at all levels at this annual meeting of the African Development Bank. Most of the credit which the EXIM bank extends is demand-driven. It is not decided by the bank that they will give loan to a certain project – it is, as I mentioned, demand-driven. Individual countries identify what is their important project and then they approach the EXIM Bank. Hence, in this way, the local requirements of individual countries of the African continent are being taken care of.

Excerpts of his speech at the Curtain Raiser Event of the 52nd Annual Meeting of African Development Bank (AfDB), 2017.

“On the occasion of the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank 2017, we are organizing an India- Africa Dialogue in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). The sessions would primarily focus on Agriculture, Healthcare, e-Governance, Renewable energy, Skill development and Education, and Manufacturing. “The Government of India is also organizing an exhibition in partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) during the Annual Meetings of the Bank with the objective to showcase the capabilities of Indian companies in terms of technology, innovation, and startups, which could be relevant for African countries. The theme of the exhibition is centred around priority areas of the Bank, i.e., the “High 5s” (Energy, Healthcare and Pharma, Agriculture, Industrialization, e-Governance). We are confident that this exhibition, where a wide spectrum of industry leaders from India will showcase their technology and enterprise, would be of great value. “I am happy to note that the theme of AfDB Annual Meetings this year is ‘Transforming Agriculture for wealth creation in Africa’. As a country, where a majority of the population lives in rural areas, and is still dependent upon agriculture for their livelihoods, India attached a great importance to rural development and agricultural transformation. “We have undertaken a number of new initiatives to transform the agricultural landscape: such as setting up a target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, a new crop insurance scheme, Prime Minister Agriculture Irrigation Scheme, integration through an electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) combined with 100% rural electrification by 2018, Prime Minister Rural Roads Scheme, and our financial inclusion scheme; such initiatives have a potential to transform the rural settings.

“Therefore, there is a great scope for a greater synergy between India and Africa in order to achieve our shared goal of rural and agricultural transformation, which would go a long way in reducing rural poverty and improving the quality of lives of rural people. “Through our seminars and exhibitions during the annual meetings of the Bank, we would showcase some of these initiatives, which would be of great interest to Africa. “I am happy to inform that India has taken a lead in establishing an International Solar Alliance, and is working closely to get it ratified soon. I am sure, we can explore the possibilities of mutual cooperation in this area, which is fast becoming a dependable source of energy, and both India and Africa have a great advantage here. “Healthcare is another area, where our exhibition and India-Africa dialogue would seek to open new avenues for enhanced cooperation between India and Africa. Considering that a number of African countries are keen to leverage India’s affordable and state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, I am sure this would interest you all. “The purpose of these events is primarily to reinforce our shared commitment, and further deepen our cooperation framework. Given the perfect alignment between Bank’s priorities and India’s growth experience and engagement with Africa, there is tremendous potential for collaboration. “It is for us as policy planners and administrators, in partnership with the captains of industry, to come together and create a conducive environment for a deeper engagement with each other. I am confident that the deliberations will prepare the stage for a more constructive and collaborative engagement. “I would, therefore, request the Ambassadors from the African countries present to help us create a widespread awareness in your respective countries, especially about the initiatives and programmes that we have planned for the delegates and participants, and encourage a wider participation for these events.”

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