Concept Note

India – East Africa Linkages

India’s East African relations date back many centuries to the time Indian traders began to engage with countries along the coast of East Africa. The East African region is of direct interest to India because of several factors. This region forms a part of India’s strategic maritime frontiers, which extend from the Persian Gulf to the east Coast of Africa and across to the Malacca strait. In fact in recent years, India’s economic partnership with East African countries has been vibrant, extending beyond trade and Investment to technology transfers, knowledge sharing, and skills development. The influx of Indian aid, capital and personnel also had a potentially profound developmental consequences for all the East African countries.

East Africa has a long Indian diasporic heritage which plays a very significant role in promoting India-Africa relations. These have helped in attracting new investments from India, into the African continent. It could be said that India’s engagement with East Africa is at two levels: One is at the bilateral level with each of the countries concerned (i.e. Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda) and the other is with EAC (East African Community, which is a regional intergovernmental organization), which is made up of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

India – East Africa Economic Relations

India entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the EAC in 2003, in the areas of cooperation including pharmaceutical, Informational Technology, Agriculture, Human resources development, tourism, industry, non-conventional energy, etc. Later these were expanded to cover capital markets, railways, capacity building in science and technology among other things. The EAC potentially provides a great opportunity to connect with the COMESA, the SADC and to the African hinterland. As such, it is important for India to cooperate both bilaterally with the Individual states and with the EAC, which has a market of about 143 million consumers and an additional market of 400 million consumers via COMESA (Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Uganda are all members of COMESA).

India has set up institutional mechanisms like Joint Trade Commissions, Joint Business Councils and joint committees with some East African Countries (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) for Economic, Technological, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation. These bodies meet periodically to boost relations and iron out issues. The Pan-African e-Network includes all these countries, which provide opportunities not only for connectivity among themselves; other African countries and the outside world, but also link some of the best hospitals and educational institutions in India, with Institutions in these countries for consultation through tele-medicine and tele-education.

Apart from government, the various Indian private and semi-government companies have also established their presence across different sector. Companies such as Bhati Airtel (telecom), Reliance Industries (Petroleum), TATA group (Automobiles, IT), Dr. Reddy’s (Pharmaceuticals), Bank of Baroda (Finance), Indian Bank (Finance), Tata Chemicals (Chemicals), Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd (Power), Mahindra Satyam(IT), Cadila (Pharmaceuticals), Jain Irrigation(Agriculture), Life insurance Corporation (Insurance), National Mineral Development Corporation (Mining), Hindustan Machine Tools (Manufacturing), United Telecom Limited (Telecom), RITES (Infrastructure), among many others are major Indian players in East Africa.

India is one of the biggest exporters to East African countries, the main items being pharmaceuticals, bicycles, automobiles and automobile parts, two-wheelers, textile fabrics, sports goods, agro-processing machinery etc. The total exports from India to the EAC, for the year 2015 – 16 amounted to US$ 7.31 billion and total imports amounted to US$ 1.33 billion, culminating to a total trade figure of US$ 8.64 billion. East Africa, like many other regions of Africa, requires an economic partnership in several sectors such as infrastructure, Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals, Technology, Agriculture, Power & Energy, etc. It is India, with its ‘Triple A Technology’ (Affordable, Adaptable, Appropriate) and proven track record that can be a strong partner in Africa’s development, and truly embody the spirit of South – South Cooperation.

THE CONFERENCE: CII- Exim Bank Regional Conclave on India – East Africa

CII organized the 12th edition of CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership with support of Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India on 9-10 March 2017 in New Delhi. Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Honorable President of India was the Chief Guest at the Inaugural Session of the Africa Conclave along with His Majesty King Mswati-III, Kingdom of Swaziland and Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Honorable Prime Minister of Uganda as Guests of Honor.

The event also attracted a high-level representation from Government of India which included Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Gen Dr. V K Singh (Rtd) and Mr. M J Akbar, Ministers of State for External Affairs. The participation from Africa was equally encouraging with 31 Ministerial level delegations apart from official and business delegations from 37 African countries. In total the event attracted more 1000 participants from Africa, India and a few other countries thus making it the biggest business event involving India and Africa.

This conclave discussed about new strategic direction to India-Africa economic relations apart from collaboration opportunities in projects and investment in Africa. There were deliberations on specific areas of cooperation in different sectors and on the additional line of credit of $ 10 billion announced by the honorable Prime Minister during the India Africa Forum Summit in October 2015, to support projects in infrastructure, Agriculture, Power, Skill Development etc, thereby promoting Indian investment in Africa.

While addressing the event, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Honorable Prime Minister of Uganda suggested organizing a Regional Conclave in Uganda this year, involving all East African Countries, as a follow up to the CII Africa Conclave that took place in New Delhi.

It is with this background that CII in partnership with Ministry of Commerce & Industry; Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India; EXIM Bank of India, EAC; EABC and Government of Uganda are organizing the Regional Conclave on India – East Africa from 20 - 21 November 2017 in Kampala, Uganda. The event will involve a business conference, an exhibition, B2B and B2G meetings, to provide an opportunity for Business Leaders to meet and strike deals, joint ventures and partnerships - for further economic cooperation.


This Conference will seek to showcase the role India can play to further progress the region via trade, Investments and exports. It will provide an opportunity for Indian Companies and key institutions like Exim Bank of India to highlight their work in the region and also use the forum to identify special projects for the EAC Countries. Specifically, the conference will seek to:-

  1. Strengthen partnership between East Africa and India
  2. Showcase Indian investments within the region, highlight their successes and challenges.
  3. Showcase investment opportunities in the East Africa region
  4. Provide opportunities for Business to Business and Business to Government engagement and networking.

Plenary Sessions will provide an opportunity for key discussions on cross-cutting themes of relevance to both East African countries and India.

Cross-cutting topics

  • Opportunities and challenges for collaboration between India and East Africa
  • Exploring key sectors like infrastructure, energy security, agriculture and many others
  • Creating Business synergies in healthcare, tourism and IT.

Breakout Sector Sessions

These will provide an avenue for sector engagements between the business community from India and from East African countries. It will focus on sectors of Common Interest.

  • ICT
  • Power and Energy
  • Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals
  • Manufacturing
  • Infrastructure
  • Agriculture and allied services
  • Education and Skill Development
  • Banking and Finance

B2B and B2G Meetings

The B2B and B2G meetings will be an opportunity for delegates to meet persons in their sectors of interest. An advance match making plan is being developed to ensure that the guests arriving from India will meet and match their counterparts from East Africa. This session will also provide the Indian Delegation with available opportunities for investment in specific sectors. It will be an opportunity for joint ventures, partnerships and business deals.

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