India has opened an opportunity for African products to enjoy special trade preferences. This was revealed at the First Partnership Platform Meeting to start a project: Supporting India’s Trade Preferences for Africa (SITA), Nairobi, Kenya, July 9-11, 2014.
The SITA project’s core objective is to position India as a partner to improve the productive and export capacities of: Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. The countries were selected to export mainly agriculture products where there are comparative advantages and have ready market in India.
During the SITA implementation period 2014-2020, Ugandans shall be free to export to India: oilseeds, fruits, pulses, and rare opportunities in business process outsourcing in computing, accountancy, engineering and law. Other products like longest staple and whitest cotton grown in Uganda may be added on the list once the market in India is responsive.
The participants for the First Partnership Platform Meeting of SITA in Nairobi, Kenya were: Richard Okilangole from Ministry of Trade Industry & Cooperatives; Martin Okumu from Uganda National Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Paul Gitta from Uganda Export Promotion Board, Ray Agong from Uganda Oilseeds Processors Association; and Rogers Karebi from Business Process Outsourcing.
For Uganda to immensely benefit, it is therefore wise for the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Industries, Ministry of Trade Industry & Cooperatives and the private sector engaged in agro-production, processing and marketing; ensure increased production and storage of the selected products so that the quality, quantity required in India are sufficiently mobilized.
The SITA project agreement was signed between India, Department for International Development of UK (DFID), International Trade Centre of the UN (ITC), Exim Bank of India, and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). The countries selected were on the basis of existing and long trade relations with India.
The project is being designed by a core team comprised of members from all the key participating organizations and countries in Africa and set to be launched March 2015. Export activities will commence immediately thereafter.
The project is part of recommendations made during several India-Africa Partnership Conclaves annually held in New Delhi, where over 1,000 delegates from both the public and private sectors meet. It is a realization that India’s economic development based on the principle of jugaad (solving complex problems using simple means), especially technology to improve agriculture production.
An Indian-African partnership underpinned by jugaad will result in opportunities arising from adversity: the ability to do more with less; to think and act flexibly to find simple solutions for increasingly complex problems; and most of all, practicality that helps eliminate complexity.
During the implementation of SITA, Indian companies are expected to partner with Ugandan companies in technology transfer to increase production, processing and storage of: beans, peas, vegetables, fruits, various oilseeds (sunflower, groundnuts, shear butter, soya beans among others). It will not only enhance export to India but also build capacity to export to other countries.
The SITA project is a concerted effort for African countries to enter India market in a big way. Its success therefore will unlock opportunities for other products to secure market, when most consumers in India will have appreciated African products. The market infrastructure that SITA will create will endear when the project is long gone.
All efforts are being done to make the SITA project to succeed by having thorough: stakeholders’ awareness; analysis of supply and demand potential; sector selection for project design; establishment of project governance structures; establishment and operationalization of SITA partnership platform; and needs assessment and project at inception phase that will ensure smooth implementation.