By Francis Kokutse� Accra�:�As India seeks to intensify ties with Africa, trade between India and Senegal, described as one of the continent's model democracies, totalled over $700 million in the 2014-15 financial year, an Indian diplomat posted in the Francophone west African nation said.
"Official figures on trade between the two countries have grown steadily from 2010-11, when the total volume stood at $425.48 million. Trade between the countries has been growing at over 25 percent annually. India's exports to Senegal during the financial year 2014-15 were valued at $518.72 million and India's imports during the period were $208.13 million (for a total of $726.85 million)," R Narayanan, second secretary of the Indian embassy in Dakar, told IANS in an email exchange from Senegals capital.
Major items of export from India to Senegal include rice, textiles, food items, automobiles and pharmaceuticals. Major items of import from Senegal are phosphoric acid, phosphate ore and raw cashew. Embassy sources said an important initiative was taken in 1988 for counter-trade arrangements with Senegal but the results were not very encouraging. There are about 300 Indians in Senegal working with Indian companies, including those executing development projects under lines of credit extended by India under bilateral and multilateral schemes. The rest run their own businesses.
"Bilateral trade volume has the potential to grow in the near future given the convergence of interests in terms of Senegal's growing economy, its need for investment in crucial infrastructure sectors and the Indian companies' endeavour to explore new markets and share their expertise in various fields with new partners," Narayanan said.
The mission is making consistent efforts to help Indian businesses increase their presence in Senegal and utilise it as a gateway to the rest of West Africa, he said.
Narayanan said that during the last three years, India has extended project assistance worth $300 million for rural electrification and fishery development projects, establishment of a slaughter house with modern facilities, a tannery and livestock market, a project for self-sufficiency in rice and the acquisition of buses.
India has also extended various scholarships to the Senegalese, with 35 slots allocated under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme (ITEC) three years ago.
Apart from this, two slots under the General Cultural Scholarship Scheme (GCSS) and nine slots under the Africa Scholarship Scheme are also made available annually for Senegal. For the current financial year, five slots for training in courses conducted by the Indian Navy and three in the courses conducted by the Indian Air Force have been allotted to Senegal.(IANS)