4th India-Africa Hydrocarbons Conference ends; paves the way for strengthening India Africa relations
The 4th India Africa Hydrocarbons Conference concluded in New Delhi today with a resolve to strengthen the relations between India and Africa in all its dimensions, particularly in the Hydrocarbons sector . ******
In her valedictory address, the Minister of External Affairs, Smt Sushma Swaraj called for working together and moving towards energy justice from energypoverty.She alluded to the centuries old relationship between India and the African continent, and gave a call for injecting new dynamism in India-Africa ties by pursuing win-win opportunities in all areas for the larger common good of the people of both regions.
Expressing a great degree of satisfaction over the conduct of the conference, the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan called it a rewarding event. He said that, during the calendar year the Ministry plans to mount composite delegations comprising upstream, downstream and EPC service providers from both public and private sector to countries where we assess potential for future co-operation. He also announced additional 250 fully funded scholarships for African nationals for technical and professional courses in the Hydrocarbons sector in Indian institutes. Shri Pradhan also said that India recognizes Africa as a valued partner for the comprehensive development of our peoples
The 4th India ¬Africa Hydrocarbons Conference was organized in New Delhi on January 21¬- 22, 2016. A total of 21 African countries participated in the event. The event saw enthusiastic representation from Africa at various levels including Ministers of Petroleum, Petroleum regulators, CEOs of National Oil Companies and experts in the field of petroleum. The delegations of 9 African countries ¬ Mauritius, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Tunisia, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea and Liberia ¬ - were headed by the respective Ministers. Senior officials led the delegations from Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Libya, Cote d’Ivory, Gabon & Sierra Leone.
The conference aimed to give a renewed thrust to India’s engagement with African nations in the hydrocarbon space, and carried forward the vision of a multidimensional, comprehensive India¬ Africa partnership spelt out by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at the 3rd India¬ Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi in October 2015.
Many of the participating African countries made crisp presentations highlighting opportunities in their hydrocarbon sector. The two¬ day conference also afforded an opportunity for India to showcase its accomplishments and techno¬ commercial capabilities spanning across upstream, midstream and downstream sectors as also India’s unique value proposition for the rapid development of the African hydrocarbon industry. Two panel discussions on “Emerging challenges and mitigating measures in hydrocarbon sector and beyond” and “Regulatory and Fiscal Regime challenges and potential solutions to stimulate investment in Upstream and Downstream sectors” were held.
It was noted that India’s engagement with African countries in the petroleum sector has been on an upswing in the past few years. India imports crude oil nearly 16% from Africa now, with the majority coming from Nigeria and Angola. Besides, Indian public and private sector companies have interests in oil and gas fields across Africa, including Sudan, South Sudan, Mozambique, Gabon and other countries.
Shri Pradhan held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from nine African countries as well as with the delegations from the other visiting countries. The Minister referred to India’s thrust for achieving a geographically diversified energy basket and said that India will try to increase its oil and gas sourcing from Africa even further. The African countries evinced specific interest in using India’s expertise and assistance in refining, capacity building and training of their manpower for the petroleum industry.
During the bilateral meetings, it was also agreed to provide facilitating framework, wherever required, for public and private sector companies of India and the African countries to undertake oil and gas projects. A number of Indian companies from the petroleum industry – including leading public and private sector players – held Business¬ to ¬Business meetings with their African counterparts on the sidelines of the conference. ONGC Videsh Limited signed an MoU with Equatorial Guinea for co¬operation in pursuing E&P activities.
Following is the text of the speech delivered by Shri Dharmendra Pradhan during the concluding session of the 4th India Africa Hydrocarbons Conference.
“ I am honoured that my senior colleague Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, Hon’ble External Affairs Minister, Govt of India, has graced this occasion to deliver the valedictory address. Her presence here today signifies the importance India attaches to countries of Africa across dimensions. She along with Prime Minister were the chief architects of the highly successful India-Africa Forum Summit held in October last year. She has taken deep interest in promoting harmonious relations between India and Africa.
It has indeed been an honour for India to host this 4th India-Africa Hydrocarbons Conference. As stated by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in his remarks at the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit - “Our partnership is beyond strategic concerns and economic benefits. It is formed from the emotional bonds we share and the solidarity we feel for each other. …..Africa will remain at the centre of our attention. Our engagement with Africa will remain intense and regular.”
Friends, I stand before you in this concluding session with a great degree of satisfaction. The last two days have witnessed intense participation by Petroleum Ministers, Senior Officials, CEOs of National Oil Companies, private companies and petroleum experts from Africa and India.
I am confident that new ground has been broken in understanding potential collaborations in the hydrocarbon space. For me, this conference has been particularly rewarding as it has provided an invaluable opportunity to meet my counterparts from Africa and discuss matters of mutual interest. During my detailed discussions with individual delegations, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Indian oil and gas companies are well regarded in Africa and there is an interest to know about our experiences on our developmental path. This has prompted us to chalk out a program of activities for 2016.
During the calendar year 2016, we will mount composite delegations comprising upstream, downstream and EPC service providers from both public and private sector to countries where we assess potential for future co-operation. I agreed with my counterparts to enter into institutional arrangements such as Joint Working Groups to pursue our mutual interests in the field of hydrocarbons. During this Conference as well as in the bilateral meetings, we emphasized Indian government’s thrust on diversification of import sources for crude oil and natural gas, and to explore avenues to further increase our petroleum imports from Africa.
We conveyed that Indian companies are keen to invest in upstream assets in Africa and are prepared to look at all opportunities on the table with an open mind. India will not be found wanting, whether by way of technical or managerial capability or resources. Our companies expressed interest to partner African countries in developing City Gas Distribution projects, gas-based power and fertilizer plants as well as in laying cross-country gas pipelines.
As I mentioned yesterday, Indian public and private sector entities have by now built up an impressive track record in setting up world-class, integrated refineries and other complex projects. We believe we can add significant value to upcoming projects in Africa. During my meetings and in the B to B meetings, this was put across to our African friends.
India and many countries in Africa have a similar demographic and socio-economic profile. They also share similar challenges. One such challenge facing us is the challenge of providing universal access of reliable, affordable, clean fuel to the vast sections of our population.
Under the current government, India has achieved significant success in pursuing this objective. Recently, one of our schemes to provide direct subsidy in cooking gas in bank accounts of about 150 million consumers has been recognized by Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest direct cash transfer program.
We have successfully streamlined subsidy and provided LPG connections to nearly 5 million poor people in last few months. I am certain that similar targeted subsidy mechanism in Public Distribution System can be replicated in Africa as well for the benefit of poor people. We will be happy to share our learnings in this regard.
As a part of US$ 10 billion concessional lines of credit announced during 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit 2015 by Prime Minister, we agreed that both Indian and African sides will work to identify projects in hydrocarbon sector which can be implemented under this Lines of Credit.
During the India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015, Prime Minister had announced 50,000 scholarships for African students in the next 5 years including 250 scholarships in petroleum sector. I am glad to announce an additional 250 fully funded scholarships for African nationals for technical and professional courses in the hydrocarbon sector in Indian institutes.
Friends, the work of this conference does not end today. I believe that today is merely the beginning of a new chapter which will witness renewed engagement with African nations in the hydrocarbon sphere.
India recognizes Africa not merely as an important cog in the wheel in its quest for energy security but also as a valued partner for the comprehensive development of our peoples. I give you my personal assurance to working diligently on the partnership avenues deliberated during this Conference, and look forward to meeting you again to take these opportunities to the next level.
Before concluding, I thank you again for travelling long distances to visit India and I hope that your stay has been comfortable. “