Malawi Vice President Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima has called on African countries to diversify their exports to maximise the continent’s economic strength.
Chilima made the sentiments during India-Africa Conclave in New Delhi, India where he was the guest speaker.
According to Chilima, Africa need to diversify exports so that it can have better market shares abroad like in India.
“In trade, there is need to diversify Africa’s export basket from just minerals and raw agricultural products to more sophisticated products,” Chilima said.
He also stressed the importance of regional groupings as one way of boosting economic integration.
“Although bilateral investment treaties are important I believe that negotiating treaties with regional economic communities is the way to go because that will promote regional economic integration. No country will operate in isolation,” Malawi Veep said.
Chilima also expressed hope that with existence of various fiscal institutions at the meeting, businesses from Africa will now secure capital.
He noted that one of the main challenges hampering the growth of India-Africa investment relate to problems in securing capital and absence of bilateral investment agreements.
“My humble plea is that the government of India should speed up processing SPS (Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary) issues with African traders in order to promote India-Africa trade. This is a “win-win” situation.
“Non-tariff barriers have also posed a major challenge for African traders because it takes time to process Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary certificates,” he said.
Chilima added that other factors hindering India-Africa trade include limited access of Indian buyers and African exporters, lack of access to trade finance, transport and logistics problems and informal controls in the form of non-tariff barriers.
“The India-Africa trade gap is still wide and Africa continues to export raw products with minimal value addition,” Chilima said.
The vice president observed that India’s contribution to Africa’s social economic development in Africa is in the form of capacity building, training, and provision of grants, concessional credits and lines of credit.
“In terms of social economic development partnership, India continues to contribute substantially to the social economic development of Africa.
“Making Africa your investment destination of choice is, therefore, a wise decision,” Chilima said.
Chilima then asked African people to use the meeting to connect with investors in order to alleviate poverty and change their countries.
This year’s India-Malawi Conclave was under the theme “Partners in Development, Building New Synergies”.