Asian economy should support the African economy – Exclusive Interview with Dr. GD Singh
New Delhi: Interview of Dr. GD Singh, Founder & Chairman, Asian-African Chamber of Commerce & Industry
What led to the decision to establish the Asian-African Chamber of Commerce & Industry? How did you first become involved with it?
The mission actually started in the year 2015 during my visit to Lagos when I was holding the charge of President of CIHF (Confederation of Indian Healthcare Foundation) where I met High Prince of Nigeria, Leye Babalola, Past President and Present Patron of Institute of Company and Commercial Accountants of Nigeria (ICCA) and we had conversation about the Asian & African Economy. It was pointed out during the discussion that the Asian economy had been stabilized and doing pretty good as compared to the African region. But then there is no association or a chamber or a body which has taken the initiative to see that the experience with which the Asian countries had achieved the growth in leaps and bounds could have shared to the African region.
Myself along with High Prince Leye Babalola had a further meeting with the presidents and representatives of various Commerce Chambers and professionals of high reputation from the entire Asian-African region. We had a debate on the subject and concluded with a decision to form the Asian-African Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) with a view to giving the business community of both this region a voice and a tool to foster development and realise UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and to strengthen the trade relationship between both the continents. AACCI was set to create that vision into reality, the founding members of AACCI set to create transnational corporations, which would have a presence in all associated member countries and whose capital would be built by nationals of all 102 prospective member countries.
The AACCI logo also says that the Asian economy which has grown and becomes stronger should support the African economy and ensure that the African region also produces.
Please introduce AACCI’s major achievements and contributions towards enhancing economic ties between Asia and Africa.
AACCI has signed MoU with various Chamber of Commerce and bodies in Asia and Africa to strengthen business relations and to establish a practical framework to facilitate the development of stronger business relations between the Asian & African regions.
AACCI had organized activities for MSMEs and their impact in Economic Development of Africa. There have been activities in the healthcare sector to enhance the healthcare quality and recognize the leaders in the healthcare and pharma sector from Asian & African regions. AACCI had also organized an award recognition program, recognizing and honoring business leaders who have shown outstanding performance and tenacity in developing successful businesses in Asian & African region.
We would be shortly announcing the biggest Trade & Investment Summit, i.e., Asian African Trade & Investment Summit (AATIS 2019), the largest forum for global investment opportunities; biggest ever trade show, B2B & B2G meetings. An extravaganza engaging world leaders & diplomats, the movers & shakers of global business, corporate gurus, fortune writers, global investors, dynamic entrepreneurs, seasoned professionals & consultants, film & television celebrities, and many more
What are the key priorities of the chamber?
* Serving our members’ needs is the primary reason for the existence of the Chamber
* Representatives are the vital resource through which we accomplish our objectives. Hence, one of our key priorities would be appointing our representatives in all the 102 countries by the end of 2020.
* Meaningful partnerships with multilateral organizations across both the continents are one of the vital priority for the chamber’s success
In which sectors do you see the most investment opportunities in Africa, especially for Indian companies?
We see the opportunities in the following sectors for Indian companies in Africa.
2. The small African farm
4. Consumer goods
5. Infrastructure: A long road ahead
7. Oil & Gas
How has the perception of Africa evolved among your members?
Africa has continued to be looked down upon by the Western powers. Negative perceptions and representations such as civil wars, hunger, corruption, greed, selfishness, diseases, poverty, and the like have been the defining characters of Africa and the Africans in the minds of many Western people.
There is no question that one of the significant reasons for Africa’s growth over the last 10–15 years is because of macro-economic policies have [sic] improved…. The idea is that African policy-makers followed Structural Adjustment Programmes in the previous 10 – 15 years. It worked, it delivered results. It achieved economic growth and poverty reduction.
One would be impressed by the tremendous changes that mark economic performance in countries that were serious about reform. Overall growth rates are robust; budgets are far more disciplined, agricultural prices have been liberalized, market-driven exchange systems are universal, governments have been downsized, regulations have been reduced, there is broad emergence of a more productive private sector and increased resources have been deployed to expand programs in education and health. I firmly believe that history will conclude that the long-term impact of the painful reforms that marked the 80s and 90s in Africa has been overwhelmingly positive
Africa is on the cusp of tremendous change, with the recent agreements on the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons and the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market.
Ongoing continental-level efforts to facilitate intra-African mobility, trade, investment and technology must complement the positive contribution of African migrants to the economies of origin and destination countries
What is the biggest synergy and priority you see today between Asia and Africa?
The Asian economy, especially East Asian economy has proven resilient over the years, in turn helping push the global economy. Africa, meanwhile, is still on the growth path. Its young demography and economy require integration and expansion into Asia’s value chains of production. Together, Asia and Africa represent 70 percent of global population and 37 percent of global GDP.
The significant synergies between Asia & Africa are mostly into Agriculture & Animal Resources, Capacity Building in Defence sector, Dairy Cooperation, Leather & Allied Sectors, Auto Sector, Bullet trains, projects on rice, cotton, solar energy, and new information technologies.
The next decade will be an opportunity for both regions to realize their economic and social potential as well as deepen their capacities and institutional strengths. As developing regions, both continents are expected to promote healthy, balanced, sustainable and inclusive growth at national and international levels, and to actively cooperate in narrowing existing development gaps and addressing common economic and social challenges. The Asia–Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) is the chosen pathway to reach these goals.
The Asian & African top priorities should be on development and cooperation projects; quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity; enhancing capacities and skills & people to people partnership.
How is the year 2019 slated to be for your chamber?
The key areas of focus for our chamber would include Membership Drive and few business and leadership forums for Asian & African leaders.
Additionally, we would be creating new committees within our group. These new committees will provide members with the marketing tools to promote their business through welcome packets, mailer newsletters, website and more.