The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group intends to adopt best practices from India’s ICT sector. The organisation confirmed this ahead of a series of industry and trade meetings taking place in Ahmedabad this week.

The contribution of India’s ICT sector to the country’s GDP has grown from 1.2% in 1998 to 9.5% in 2016 – and AfDB believes it can learn from this success.

AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina anticipates closer collaboration between Africa and India in terms of ICT and other key sectors.

“There are many opportunities around which we look to create productive and winning relationships with India, through investment and work on the synergies that exist between infrastructure, regional integration, the regulation of enterprises, skills development and employment, agriculture, health and innovation. In each of these areas I see the prospect for greater cooperation and collaboration with India, an inveterate and committed investor in Africa.”

The AfDB says its flagship ICT program, within its Jobs for Youth Strategy, will serve as a guide for its relationship with India. The program seeks to tackle unemployment by equipping young people with digital skills.

“India has a global reputation as a leader in the software industry, information technology enabled services, and business process outsourcing, and, over time, the sector has employed more than 10 million people. The high demand for ICT services in India has also created demand for education, especially for engineering and computer science. This, in turn, has positioned India as a key ICT knowledge exporter,” reads an excerpt from AfDB’s ‘Shared Development Agenda Document’ distributed at the meetings.

AfDB added that its fund to promote start-ups, SMEs and skills development in Africa, will also benefit from closer ties with India.

“India has demonstrated success through initiatives such as Startup India, which promotes bank financing for start-up ventures to boost entrepreneurship and encourage startups with jobs creation and Skill India, a campaign to train over 400 million people in India in different skills by 2022.”

Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance in India, said, “At a time when the global economic environment is marked by uncertainties, there is a need to develop a greater synergy between India and Africa in order to achieve our shared goals of eliminating poverty and hunger, and improving the quality of life of our people.”

Bill Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, opened the 2017 AfDB Annual Meeting with a message in support of the event and its goals.

“It is fitting that this discussion is in India given its own experience in setting its development agenda. Global partnerships like this one are a powerful way to move Africa forward and that is why I am excited about the collaboration our Foundation has built with the Bank and about the work we are doing together with many of your governments.”

Data from India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) and Exim Bank Analysis shows that India’s bilateral trade with the continent has risen five-fold in the last decade, from US$ 11.9 billion in 2005-06 to US$ 56.7 billion in 2015-16.

The research also shows that from 1996-2016, Africa accounted for nearly one-fifth of Indian overseas direct investments, with Mauritius, Mozambique, Sudan, Egypt and South Africa as the lead investment destinations.

Africa taps into India’s ICT know-how