M.J. Akbar Kicks Off ‘Namaskar Africa 2017’ in Ghana
By Francis Kokutse | IANS
India has a different approach in its developmental relationship with other countries as it believes in sharing knowledge without any hidden agenda, Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar said at the opening of a two-day “Namaskar Africa 2017” India-West Africa Trade and Exhibition Forum here Ghana.
“Our attitude to knowledge is its powerful meaning — that it is the only thing that grows when you give it away. We are ready to share with our friends, ready to be partners and ready to be equals and not come bearing gifts loaded with debt traps. We don’t have any concept of debt traps,” Akbar said at the event.
The event, organised jointly by the Indian Commerce Ministry and the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) aims to brand India a leading economic player and partner to the West African region.
IT will help facilitate Indian investments into Ghana and neighbouring West African countries, create awareness about the best Indian technologies and products in the region as well as explore opportunities offered by the region.
“Namaskar Africa” started with an India-Central Africa Regional Business Forum in Republic of Congo.
Akbar drew a parallel between the leaders of India and Ghana in their quest to bring development to their countries. “Both leaders stand for a conviction of a new vision which is not open-ended in terms of time,” he said.
“In India, Prime Minister Modi is talking about five years whilst in Ghana President Akufo-Addo is talking about four years”, Akbar said, adding that the two leaders have adopted the use of transformation which means that they do not only have “a vision but a route map to a new horizon”.
Akbar said that the era purchases must be replaced by era of production. “This era of production must be India and Ghana led.”
He also expressed concern that in terms of trade, the developing world has, through the years, created the industry and “someone else took the profit”.
“The time has come to reverse that. We must not allow our industry to become someone’s profit. Profits must go to
the people not kept by the companies.
“Growth by itself is no longer sustainable. The first fruits and largest share of growth must go to the people who live at the bottom of the growth pyramid,” Akbar added.
The minister said that the developing world has lost its voice when it comes to industry and trade. “The Portuguese did not come to India because of tourism, they came because of India’s silk”, and it was therefore time that countries in the South took back their brands.
Akbar said that in 1948 over half of the British government’s annual revenue came from the taxes on rubber in Malaysia and described this as “the rape of massive exploitation and massive theft”.
Ghana’s Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kyerematen, said he had a soft spot for India because his “godfather was a successful Indian merchant”.
He said Ghana’s President has launched a 10-point ambitious industrial transformation agenda to bring industrialisation to the door steps of the people.
“The government and the private sector will work together to bring one industry to one district,” Kyerematen said. He invited investors from India to be part of the agenda.
These industries include agro-based ventures. In addition, there are also plans for industrial parks in 10 regions. In addition, there are also plans for a pharma park, petro-chemical industry and an integrated aluminium industry.
(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at email@example.com)