MUMBAI, India, Apr 28 – Economic cooperation between Kenya and India is aimed at creating jobs and ending the perennial food shortage in the country, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has said.
Mr Musyoka said whereas Africa was a continent of abundance in terms of arable land, forests, wildlife and minerals; it is still faced with constant food shortage and poverty, with hundreds of millions of citizens living vulnerable lives.
The Vice President was speaking in Mumbai, India where he is the chief guest at the Indo-Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry Forum.
Mr Musyoka noted that Kenya and Africa needed knowledge and technology transfer to enable them to carry out small scale and massive irrigation projects aimed at achieving food security.
He also told the forum that for Kenya and the rest of the Africa to transform into middle income economies, value addition must be effected through agro-processing and manufacturing.
"Every innovation we come up with and whatever business deals we conclude must have one major objective – to create jobs and wealth for our people," he said.
The VP acknowledged that trade between India and Africa has grown over the years in volume to now stand at $45billion but said efforts should be made to correct the imbalance which is in favour of India.
He challenged the Asian economic giant to work with Africa in unlocking the World Trade Organization talks via the Doha rounds in order to ensure equity and fair play in the international trading regime.
The forum which brought together trade and industry ministers from many African countries including: Botswana, Kenya, Senegal DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Ethiopia and Namibia seeks to strengthen trade links between Africa and India.
Mr Musyoka welcomed major Indian firms who have invested in Kenya and challenged leading Indian industrialists to make Africa the preferred investment destination.
He thanked Bharti Airtel the mobile telephony giant, real estate investors Reliance, energy company Essar, Tata Motor group and cement manufacturer Sanghi for having confidence in the Kenyan economy.
Noting that regional economic blocks were the best route to build strong markets the Vice President said Indian investors can take advantage of the EAC (East African Community) and COMESA markets as well as those of SADC and ECOWAS.
Mr Musyoka said India had made significant strides in ICT and manufacturing sectors and it was therefore incumbent on Africa to play catch up. "With regard to the integration of technology and commerce most sub-Saharan African countries are today where India was 10 years ago."
The chairman of the Indo-Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry W. P Trivedi said India and Africa should pursue economic policies that empower larger sections of the population.
Speaking at the same forum, the Governor of the Maharashtra State whose capital is Mumbai announced scholarships for African students in technology, manufacturing and agro processing.
Follow us on TWITTER@CapitalFM_Kenya