India’s initiatives spanning the Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) trinity should be implemented in Africa so that high-level digital connectivity can rapidly spread across the continent, says Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said on Tuesday.
Mittal Adhikari, a prominent member of B20 G-20 Dialogue platform with the global business community.
Speaking at the CII Partnership Summit 2023, Mittal said integration of the African economy was chosen by India as one of the legacies it wanted to leave behind as its part. G-20 Presidency.
Solutions, such as India’s digital stack, which is based on digital identity as Aadhaar, leveraging fintech to move finance and subsidies across the population in a dramatically cost-effective way and put a mobile phone in everyone’s hands Had served India well and will do the same for Africa.
Despite commanding a continental GDP of $3.2 trillion, Africa’s 55 countries account for less than 2 percent of global manufacturing output. Mittal, under whom Bharti Airtel’s Africa business is now spread across 15 countries across the continent, said this shows Africa’s potential to capture a larger share of the global economy.
Mittal stressed the need to focus on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Established in 2018, it aims to create a common business sector of 1.3 billion people and is set to increase foreign direct investment by up to 1.6 times.
B20 recommendations soon
Mittal said the B20 Council on Tuesday presented zero draft plan on African economic integration. “The draft will be presented in the next meeting in April, and will eventually be presented G-20 in July, so that a full-scale agreement can be reached on the issue at the September summit,” he said. The council has seven co-chairs from different countries.
Physical and digital connectivity form the core of the recommendations made by the B20. Mittal said most places in Africa already have good 4G mobile networks, so digital connectivity could work.
“We don’t need to wait for 5G metaverse type interventions. So the Indian model (of telecom development) can work in Africa.
On physical connectivity, Mittal said the recommendations would point out ways to reduce the long trade routes currently used in the continent. He flagged the need to first take the issue of exports from some African economies to Europe before they can be brought back to the neighboring country due to lack of access.
Other areas of focus of the recommendations include meaningful investments in the agricultural economy to boost food production, large-scale skilling and manufacturing development. Mittal referred to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as having the largest land mass in the continent and yet lacking food.
India’s G20 presidency has had the largest ever representation from Africa with six participants. Besides South Africa, the other African countries invited to G20 meetings and summits are Egypt, Mauritius, Nigeria, the Chair of the African Union and the Chair of the African Union Development Agency. In January, India hosted the Voice of the Global South Summit with a focus on charting a new path of greater cooperation towards realizing the priorities of developing countries.
The big powers are now moving away from providing real assistance. Mittal said the idea behind the council is to focus the energy of capital allocation for Africa on select issues to date.