India-Africa business conclave starts

With booming two-way trade, investment deals worth billions of dollars are likely to be discussed at the three-day India-Africa project partnership conclave that starts in India, organisers said.
Some 800 delegates from nearly 35 African countries are scheduled to participate at the the seventh such conclave, co-hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Exim Bank, in cooperation with the ministries of external affairs and commerce.
India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna is scheduled to kick-off the conclave with a special plenary address on March 27 (Sunday) evening at the Taj Palace hotel. The theme this year: Creating Possibilities; Delivering Values.
Officials in India's foreign office said the conclave is also a build-up to the India-Africa Summit in May, scheduled at the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, which would be attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"Delegates from 31 African countries have confirmed their participation at this year's business conclave so far. The participants include heads of state and government, top ministers, government officials and business leaders," a CII official said.
"These events provide an opportunity to deepen bilateral economic engagements. They also help African nations to work together and speak in one voice on regional integration," Nigeria's Foreign Minister H. Odein Ajumogobia told IANS in an interview recently. 
In the last six conclaves 1,084 projects worth $56.08 billion were discussed. 
"Over the last six years, projects in various areas have been discussed and implemented. The conclave has been successfully able to build a bridge between Indian and African business leaders and officials," according to a concept note released by the CII.
"The conclave has developed into a platform that has enhanced the presence of 'Brand India' in the African countries. Africa with its look east policy has also found the conclaves a credible access point for appropriate technologies and partners." 
India's trade with African countries has soared by over 400 percent since 2005, when the first conclave was held. 
In the last edition, some 500 delegates from 33 African nations, including 29 ministers, had participated. Some 157 projects worth $10.02 billion were discussed in over 1,200 one-to-one business meetings during the last year's conference, the organisers said. 

Political leaders at the conclave include African Union Commission Chair Jean Ping, Mozambique Prime Minister Aires Bonifacio Ali, Central African Republic Prime Minister Faustin Archange Touadera, Togo Prime Minister Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo and Somalia Deputy Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.  

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