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The growth story of African nations is a lesson for India

editorials Updated: Nov 01, 2015 23:43 IST
Hindustan Times
India-Africa summit

President Pranab Mukherjee, vice president Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a group photograph with the heads of delegations of the third India Africa Forum Summit at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in (PTI Photo)

The diplomatic lag that marked the relationship between India and Africa for years has been an issue of serious concern, but after the third India-Africa Summit in New Delhi one would, hopefully, get a chance to say ‘Hakuna Matata’.

However, one must acknowledge that there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the continent to cement the relationship. Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a modest (re)start by announcing a slew of measures to support the continent. He promised help for Africa’s agriculture sector, technology and innovation and also promised a concessional credit of $10 billion over the next five years. This will be in addition to India’s ongoing credit programme.

India too has much to learn from many African countries. Take Ethiopia, for example. In the last 15 years, it has made spectacular improvements in terms of child survival and health. The government’s flagship Health Extension Programme has leveraged domestic and international support to build a resilient system. In 1990, Ethiopia’s maternal mortality ratio was 950 per 100,000 live births and in 2013 it reached 420.

Last year, a KPMG report said that in the past decade African countries experienced unprecedented growth rates, and seven of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world in 2014 were from Africa. Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana, Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Nigeria have all seen levels of economic growth recently that have forced foreign investors to turn away from their traditional investments, and start looking towards opportunities in Africa.

What makes these nations attractive to invest are the facts that they feature stable democratic political climates, have established functioning free markets, offer large potential markets, boast huge raw material bases, as well as abundant and inexpensive labour forces, the report concluded.

The Africa story is heart-warming also because of the fact that many of its nations have had a very difficult political history and have a mosaic of cultures and traditions, and yet the continent, especially the southern part, has managed to pull itself up to new heights. It’s a lesson that should not be lost on India and also the developing world.