WORLD VIEW: UK & India: Africa, the Common Frontier

WORLD VIEW: UK & India: Africa, the Common Frontier

"We all are aware of India's economic growth and like India, Africa is also rising fast".

- Dr Mohan Kaul,Chairman of the Commonwealth Investment CorporationChairman emeritus of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC)

Yes, there are no common geographic borders or fronts between the UK and India. In Africa, however, there are common business practices, languages, agreements and treaties between them, which offer excellent opportunities to companies to succeed in their global trade. The corporates which have identified these synergies and explored them, have excelled in the international arena.In fact, the recent changes in India are going to make this business proposition even better. With Mr Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister, I foresee more joined up opportunities for businesses in this frontier. India enjoys favourable business agreements with many African nations and British companies like JCB, which are using India as a manufacturing base, have taken advantage of these to export to Africa from India. I encourage more British companies to do the same. This is a win-win situation where you keep the cost of manufacturing low and use India as your export base.We all are aware of India's economic growth and like India, Africa is also rising fast. I am pleased to say that seven of the world's fastest growing economies are in Africa. In fact, between 2001 and 2010, six out of 10 of the fastest-growing countries in the world were in Africa.As a firm believer in the growth potential of Africa, I have helped several businesses enter and expand in the continent. My advice to companies looking at foreign investment is this - enter the market now so that you have an advantage. Also, when it comes to investing in India and Africa, do not go in with the expectations of a quick profit, as these destinations work for your long term investment plans, not short term gains.Another factor which makes this common frontier special is the people, or specifically, the Indian Diaspora which migrated from India to Africa to the UK. Majority of people who took this journey come from the state of Mr Modi - Gujarat, and they have prospered wherever they have settled.For the East African Indians who settled in the UK, investing both in Africa and India is low-risk, high returns business opportunity. Manu Chandaria is one of the many such successful businessman with holdings in Africa, India and the UK.What binds these three together is the way their strength compliments each other. Indian and African companies are hungry for expansion and they see the UK as a financial hub where they can list on the LSE and AIM to raise their profile and IPO. There are over 65 Indian companies on the Exchange′s markets and over $2.5 billion raised in the last two years. In fact, I believe, the Exchange is a favoured route for globally ambitious Indian companies seeking capital to fund their growth. Moreover, Indian companies such as OPG Power are raising capital in the UK (London) to invest in African opportunities, increasingly in African Infrastructure.Though we are seeing more trade between these countries, what UK, India and Africa should next look into is exploring closer links in academia and R&D. They should invest in technology transfers and collaborations for business growth and high returns. What both Africa and India need to sustain their high growth rates are better infrastructure, better technology and better education and the UK with its strong R&D base, education and skills and financial centre status is an ideal partner in this common frontier.
Dr Mohan Kaul is chairman of the Commonwealth Investment Corporation and chairman emeritus of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC). He has worked closely with British and African companies to help them set up in India and has led business delegations to India for the past two decades.
The above article was published in
India Inc′s
print edition of the
India Investment Journal
launched in June 2014 in conjunction with the

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