In a path-breaking development that would increase Indian business footprints in Africa, Africa India Economic Foundation (AIEF, an Institutional Mechanism established to integrate and develop close business links between the private sectors and MSME entities of India and Africa) and African Union (AU) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Friday to collaborate on promoting business and trade relations between the MSMEs, private and public sectors of African countries and India.

The MOU was signed at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by G Rathinavelu, Chairman & Co-Founder of AIEF, and Ambassador Albert Muchanga, Commissioner, African Union Commission, the Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals (ETTIM) Department, on behalf of the African Union.

This historic pact marks the first of its kind collaboration between a private organisation in India (AIEF) and the African Union. AIEF was also the first private Indian business organisation to be expressly recognised in the African Union Summit decisions in 2020.

The MoU seeks to bring together the business entities in India and Africa and leverage the expertise of both sides to promote investment, facilitate skill development and technology transfer, bring MSMEs together and boost private and public sector trade relations. This agreement fits in with the desire of Indian and African leadership to forge closer business ties between the private sectors and contribute to the prosperity of Africa and India in their march to realise the shared goals & objectives.

The signing ceremony was attended by the Commissioner & the representatives of the ETTIM department of African Union and the Co-founders and other founding members of AIEF. The African Union has expressed its happiness with this landmark agreement and the tremendous potential this agreement holds for the future of Africa.

TS Tirumurti, former Secretary Economic Relations MEA and ex permanent envoy to UN, told ET, “This MoU with African Union by AIEF is truly a path-breaking one. AIEF has shown the way forward for business entities of India and Africa to come together for mutually beneficial trade and investment, especially focused on SMEs which are the mainstay of our respective economies. There is great promise in this initiative and I felicitate AIEF on this occasion.” As Secretary, Economic Relations, Tirumurti was key figure in expanding India’s ties with Africa.

“We are pleased to collaborate with the African Union to drive progress in all sectors for empowering and transforming business relations between MSMEs of India and Africa. This MOU is an important milestone in achieving our mission.” said the Co-Founders of AIEF.The Africa India Economic Foundation was founded by the Co-Founders Rathinavelu and Dr. Pierre Atepa Goudiaby of the Republic of Senegal and is registered in India. It was primarily established to integrate and promote knowledge, technology, industry, trade, commerce and investments between MSMEs, private and public sectors of India and countries of Africa.

The Co-Founders were also instrumental in acting as a catalyst for establishing the successful TEAM-9 initiative of the Government of India in 2004. TEAM-9 was a pioneering initiative with eight West African countries where India extended a credit line of USD 500 million for economic, infrastructural, and social sector projects in these West African countries which was successfully utilized.

AIEF will be a mechanism to bring the Indian and African entrepreneurs on to a common platform with the motive to enhance technological and commercial collaborations. It will provide several opportunities for the members to participate in Seminars, Conferences, Meetings, Symposia Roundtable discussions thereby facilitating Brand promotion and meetings with foreign delegations, international agencies, and various international chambers of Commerce and industries. AIEF will also provide Training, Management Development Programs and Strategic Mentorship Programs suitable to the specific business environment.

The Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India signed the TEAM-9 MOU with the Foreign Ministers of selected Eight West African countries – Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana & Guinea Bissau on March 1, 2004 and India’s then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee sanctioned a credit line of USD 500 million for the economic, infra- structural and social sector projects in the above countries, under the TEAM-9 initiative.

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