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  India, in a joint initiative with the African Union, has launched the Pan-African e-network project, which will support tele-education, telemedicine, e-commerce, e-governance, infotainment, resource-mapping and meteorological services *

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ADDRESS DURING THE VALEDICTORY FUNCTION OF THE CONCLAVE ON INDIA-AFRICA PROJECT PARTNERSHIP 2005 `EXPANDING HORIZONS`, : India - Africa Partnership for Focused Missions (08-11-2005 : New Delhi )
Source : www.presidentofindia.nic.in
  
  
 

I am delighted to participate in the India-Africa Project Partnership 2005 "Expanding Horizons" organized by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and EXIM Bank. My greetings to the organizers, Hon`ble Ministers, Principle Advisors, Bankers, Business Captains, representatives of Chambers of Commerce and Industries and Government representatives participating in this Conclave. Particularly, I would like to greet the delegates of 31 African countries who are participating in this Conclave. I understand that the first Conclave resulted in discussions on one hundred and seventy eight projects valued at US $ 6 billion for further partnership and also signing of 12 MoUs. In this Conclave you have discussed specific participation of Indian business leaders in African projects. You have also had interaction with institutions for long term involvement in capacity building. I am sure that these interactions will lead to new partnership between Indian Industry leaders and African Industry leaders and result in the establishment of new enterprises in Africa and India based on the core competence of both the countries.
I am happy to note that as part of New Partnership for Africa Development and TEAM-9 projects valued at $360 Million has been approved and letters of credits opened. Also 15000 students from different parts of Africa study in India and 1000 officials from Sub - Saharan Africa receive training Annually in India under ITEC Program.

Study of Conclave Outcomes

I studied the number and profile of participants of both India and Africa who attended the first Conclave held in March 2005 and attending the second Conclave being held now. It is really a high level participation. In addition CII and the EXIM bank have provided certain inputs for the Conclaves. In spite of that I consider there is a large scope for improvement in the quality of output which has resulted from these two Conferences. That would need active participation from both the Governments, focused programme definition by industry captains and also creation of clearance mechanisms for faster decision process by both the countries.


Pan African e-Network

      During the last two years I had an opportunity to visit African countries such as Sudan, Tanzania, Tanzania-Zanzibar and South Africa. Also I had an opportunity to address the Pan African Parliament on 16 Sept 2004, at Johannesburg, South African which was attended by Heads of 53 member countries of the African unit. There I announced the willingness of Government of India to provide seamless and integrated satellite, fiber optics and wireless network connecting 53 African countries. This will provide three Connectivities: (i) Heads of the State Network for e-governance (ii) Tele-education network for higher education, skill enhancement and capacity building and (iii) Tele-medicine for providing health care and super specialty medi-care. This programme will be funded by India. This network will be in position by early 200.7


Flow Chart of Events towards MoU

      Now, I would like to give the sequence of events which took place before final signing of the MoU between India and African Union for implementation of Pan-African e-network project. As soon as the project was announced a technical committee was appointed by Prime Ministerös Office (PMO) to generate the project report. The derivation of the project report took four months and needed six meetings of the technical experts drawn from Department of Space, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL). MEA had also interacted with African Union (AU) and member countries in this period. After the submission of the project report, PMO reviewed the project two times. Then PMO directed MEA to submit the project to AU. MEA organized a presentation of the project report by a high level team to Chairman and members of the AU. AU also constituted a Technical Review Committee consisting of members drawn from AU and International organizations. The final presentation was made by the Indian team to the Technical Review Committee which observed that this proposal is in line with the missions and objectives of the African Union and provides tremendous potential for achieving the MDG (Millennium Development Goals) through the use of innovative ICT. Meanwhile I made a presentation of the whole project to the 28 Ambassadors of Pan African countries stationed in Delhi at Rashtrapati Bhavan. They also visited ISRO and saw the operational tele-medicine facilities. After this event MoU between AU and India has been signed on 27th October 2005. It can be seen with the persistent efforts of PMO, MEA and AU, a comprehensive robustly reviewed, mutually agreed project proposal for implementation of the state-of-the-art Pan African e-network has been evolved within a year, due to the focussed participation of all the stakeholders in the system.
I am giving this example to illustrate how with focussed attention a Government system has been able to perform in a time bound manner. In the case of private sector enterprises who have much more autonomy of operation, they should definitely be able to achieve higher level of results if they follow a focussed approach to project conceptualisation, formulation and implementation. CII and EXIM bank should study the specific problem faced by the business leaders and carve out a definitive problem solving session with various constituents of the decision making machinery. Here I would like to mention that AU and India can conduct a survey and short list few consultants both in India and Africa for the preparation of robust project reports, which will meet the needs of the policies and procedures, enunciated by both the Government from time to time.


India and Africa: Natural Allies

      As all of you will agree with me India and Africa are natural allies. We have many things in common and we have a common civilizational heritage. We have a historical links right from Mahatima Gandhi sowed the seeds of Ahimsa dharma in South Africa. Also Africa has great leaders of international status like Mwalimu Nyerere, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. Now India is in the process of transforming itself into a developed nation by the year 2020. Hence I would like to present our national challenges and plans. I am sure that this may be relevant to many of the countries in the AU.


Our National mission - challenges

      Our nation is going through a major challenge of uplifting of 260 million people who are below the poverty line and also to give better life for many millions who are on the border line of poverty or just above the poverty line. They need a decent habitat, they need work with reasonable income, they need food, they need speedy access to health care, and they need education and finally they need a good life and hope for a better future. Our GDP is growing at more than 7% per annum on an average. Whereas, the economists suggest that to uplift the people from below the poverty line, our economy has to grow at the rate of 10% per annum consistently, for over a decade.

Integrated action: To meet the need of one billion people, we have the mission of transforming India into a developed nation. We have identified five areas where India has a core competence for integrated action: (1) Agriculture and food processing (2) Reliable and Quality Electric power, Surface transport and Infrastructure for all parts of the country. (3) Education and Healthcare (4) Information and Communication Technology (5) Strategic sectors. These five areas are closely inter-related and if properly implemented, will lead to food, economic and national security of our country.
Integrated action: To meet the need of one billion people, we have the mission of transforming India into a developed nation. We have identified five areas where India has a core competence for integrated action: (1) Agriculture and food processing (2) Reliable and Quality Electric power, Surface transport and Infrastructure for all parts of the country. (3) Education and Healthcare (4) Information and Communication Technology (5) Strategic sectors. These five areas are closely inter-related and if properly implemented, will lead to food, economic and national security of our country.
With these aspects in view, we have already laid down the road map. The priority for the government is to convert the road map into various missions. It is to be done in a decentralized manner allowing a greater role for private enterprise and local initiatives. While converting the vision into different missions we seem to have many thoughts and variety of routes to reach the goal. This is where there is a need to have a coherent thinking among all the members of the society, including the legal and law and other agencies. All of us have to think that the nation is greater than an individual or an organization. All of us should believe, that "we can do it". The key question before us is: How to create such an enabling environment?


National Missions and opportunities

      Let me discuss some of the national missions that India is giving thrust for achieving sustainable economic development for all the regions of the nation. I am sharing these missions with the members of this Conclave, so that you may like to replicate this model in your countries. First I would like to agriculture and agro food processing.


Agriculture and agro food processing

      India is now producing about 200 million tonnes of food grains, as a result of the first green revolution piloted by the political leadership of Shri. C. Subramaniam, the scientific leadership of Dr. M.S. Swaminathan and willing farmers. India has now embarked on Second Green Revolution which will enable increase in productivity and diversification of the agricultural sector. The second green revolution will have the farmers in focus, farming technology as the friend, food processing and marketing as partners and the consumers as customers. From now on to 2020, India will gradually increase the production to around 400 million tonnes of grains. The increase in the production will have to be done under the reduced availability of land from 170 million hectares to 100 million hectares with reduced water availability. We should also learn to diversify to meet specific consumer preferences, export markets and also in the interest of ecological balance. This is to be achieved through information access to all stakeholders and not with central controls or restriction of movements of agro products. Now, I would like to discuss about PURA.


Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA)

      The number of PURA units for the whole country is estimated to be 7000. This envisages integrated connectivities to bring prosperity to rural India. These are - physical connectivity of the village clusters through quality roads and transport; electronic connectivity through tele-communication with high bandwidth fiber optic cables reaching the rural areas from urban cities and through Internet kiosks; and knowledge connectivity through education, vocational training for farmers, artisans and craftsmen and entrepreneurship programmes. These three connectivities will lead to economic connectivity through starting of enterprises with the help of banks, micro credits and marketing of the products.

Each PURA cluster will connect about 20 villages depending upon the region and population and will cost about Rs.100 crores (~$20 Million). After initial short-term employment during construction etc., we have to plan for initiating actions for providing regular employment and self employment opportunities in nationally competitive small enterprises in agro processing, manufacturing and services sectors for about 3000 people. If the industrial/business parks are marketed well, they can generate employment opportunities in support sector for about 10,000 people in that cluster. This will provide sustainable economy for the rural sector. In this national mission, bankers can promote entrepreneurship in the rural areas. This will lead to the removal of urban-rural divide. This experience can become a model for other countries to follow.


Periyar PURA - Transformation of Rural Society

      Last year I had visited Periyar Maniammai College of Technology for women and inaugurated a project called Periyar PURA (Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas) Complex. Over 65 villages near Vallam, Thanjavur district of Tamilnadu, have been transformed as a PURA Cluster. This PURA complex has all the three connectivities - physical connectivity, which has a circular road and interconnecting roads covering major villages along with bus transport system, it provides electronic connectivity through internet kiosks and knowledge connectivity through its academic background - leading to economic connectivity to the 65 villages.

The centre of activity emanates from the women engineering college that provides the electronic and knowledge connectivity. Periyar PURA has health care centres, primary to post graduate level education and vocational training centres. This has resulted in large scale employment generation and creation of number of entrepreneurs with the active support of 850 self-help groups.

They have innovative water management schemes for irrigation and providing potable water for all the village citizens. All 65 Periyar PURA villages are having only rain fed irrigation. Two hundreds acres of waste land has been developed into cultivable land with innovative water management schemes such as contour ponds and water sheds for storing and irrigating the fields. All the villagers are busy in either cultivation, planting Jatropha, herbal and medicinal plants, power generation using bio-mass, food processing and above all running marketing centres. Due to shortage of rainfall in that locality, farmers were suffering due to scarcity of water not only for agriculture but also for drinking purposes. Keeping this in mind, Periyar PURA developed six percolation ponds and five check dams to harness the rain water amounting to 2.73 lakh cubic meter per year. This water is supporting the irrigation of 300 acres of land through recharging their open wells and bore wells. It also supplies drinking water to the people. Periyar PURA has also developed alternate practices such as Contour lands, check dams across natural streams for water conservation and developed a model for irrigation for conservation of water. More than 5000 farmers are benefiting from this program. This example will be useful for water management in PURA complexes. Recently Periyar PURA has brought number of employment oriented schemes to the Tsunami affected Nagapattinam villages and trained the Self-Help Groups on the Tiles making, paper manufacturing, alternative building blocks manufacturing and number of commonly used items required in the rural and urban market. This single women engineering college have empowered the villagers through the skill oriented training, provision of finance and provision of market connectivity for their produce.


PURA: Loni Model (Maharashtra)

      Recently, I visited a place called Loni in Maharashtra where a participative model of integrated rural development has come up among 44 villages with the population of 80 thousand. The architect of this model Shri Bala Saheb Vikhe Patil, MP of Maharashtra has a vision of improving the productivity of the rural people through improved quality of life with healthcare, education and employment.

The concept is people centric development for social transformation. The thrust area of development has been on comprehensive medicare particularly for women and children, need based health education and e-connectivity to the farmers. The complex has created 27 educational and vocational institutions consisting of schools, colleges, polytechnic and ITI including medical and engineering colleges. They have created sugar factory, bio-grass plants, chemical plants and power projects. They have large number of self-help groups for providing low interest loan for the weaker sections in the society. Due to the co-operative effort of the people, literacy in these villages has gone up from 63% to 83%, birth rate has come down 2.3% to 2%, infant mortality rate has decreased to 35 per 1000 from 70 per 1000 and the standard of living of the people has gone up by over 20% compare to other village clusters in the neighbouring areas.


Bio-fuel Mission

      Government has decided to permit of mixing of 10% bio-fuel with diesel. This has opened up new opportunities for employment and wealth generation. We have nearly 63 million hectares of wasteland available in the country, out of which 33 million hectares of wasteland have been allotted for tree plantation. Certain multi-purpose trees such as Jatropha can grow well in wasteland with very little input. Once grown the crop has a fifty years of life. Fruiting can take place in this plant in less than two years.
It yields oil seeds up to five tonnes per hectare per year and produces two tonnes of bio-diesel. Presently, the cost of bio-diesel through the plant is approximately Rs. 17 to Rs. 19 per litre which can be substantially reduced through choice of right size of the plant and using high yield variety plantation. Bio-diesel plants grown in 11 million hectares of land can yield a revenue of approximately Rs. 20,000 crore (nearly four billion) a year and provide employment to over 12 million people both for plantation and running of the extraction plants. This is a sustainable development process leading to large scale employment of rural manpower. Also, it will reduce the foreign exchange outflow paid for importing crude oil, the cost of which is continuously rising in the international market. Moreover, use of Bio-fuel is CO2 emission free. This oil can also be used for soap and candle industries. De-oiled cake is a raw material for composting. Also Jatropha plantation provides a good environment for honey production. We should absorb best of the technologies available worldwide and start commercial operation soon. I would request the banking community assembled here to take the initiative, generate detailed project report in collaboration with technical agencies on this project and promote entrepreneurs with financial support from the banks in rural areas who can undertake the plantation and commissioning of extraction plant leading to production of cost-effective bio-fuel. I am sure the bio-fuel plants can grown in many parts of Africa. Can there be a better project than this for coherent development of our rural sector in our countries?


HIV/AIDS

      It is reported that in India number of HIV infected people is on the increase. It is critical that the transmission of HIV infection is prevented. An effective vaccine that can prevent this disease will be a cost effective tool for control of infectious diseases. There are three Sub Types of Viruses classified as A, B and C. I understand that Indian population is largely affected by sub-type C virus.


There are two candidate vaccines presently considered for use against sub type C virus in our country. In view of the urgency of finding a cost effective vaccine, the expert group reviewed the vaccine candidate for HIV sub type C in the pipeline. Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) based vaccine with HIV-1 sub type C (African strain) developed by Targetted Genetics Corp, USA was found to be in advanced stage of test in different parts of the world. This HIV vaccine (tgAAC09) is now undergoing Phase-I trial for safety and immunogenicity assessment in healthy HIV uninfected volunteers at National AIDS Research Institute, Pune.

The Indian vaccine has been developed by scientists from National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in collaboration with National Aids Research Institute, Pune and Therion Biologics, USA. This is a recombinant vaccine containing six genes from HIV 1-C strain. This vaccine was developed from the virus isolated from National Aids Research Institute, Pune. This will go into Phase-I trial in healthy uninfected adults at Tuberculosis Research Centre, Chennai during this year. Both these programmes are being progressed as a joint venture between ICMR, National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) and International Aids Vaccine Initiative. In addition to these two vaccines a DNA based vaccine and SFV vaccine are also under development.

Time has, now arrived to take up this development in a mission mode so that an effective vaccine will be available for our countries within the next two years. Simultaneously, I would suggest that the medical community must start working on the development of anti-vaccines for sub-type A and B also. India and Africa can definitely work together in this programme.




Electronic Connectivity and GRIDs
      

The electronic connectivity for one billion people must transform into a network and provide a seamless access between knowledge creator, converter of knowledgeable products and the knowledge consumers. This can be achieved through the creation of knowledge grid, health grid, governance grid and PURA Grid.
To maximize the synergy between the grids, leading to maximization of GDP and productivity, there is a need for inter-grid Connectivities, which may be called as societal grid. Knowledge sharing, knowledge utilization and knowledge re-use is very vital by all constituents of the society for promoting non-linear growth. Societal Grid consists of:

1. Knowledge GRID - Inter connecting universities with socio-economic institutions, industries and R&D organizations.

2. Health Care GRID - Inter-connecting the Health Care institutions of Government, Corporate and Super specialty hospitals. Research institutions, educational institutions and ultimately, Pharma R & D institutions.

3. E-Governance GRID - Inter-connecting the Central Government and State Governments and District and Block level offices for G2G and G2C connectivity.

4. PURA Knowledge GRID - Connecting the PURA Nodal centers with the Village knowledge centres and Domain service providers. Since this is the backbone for rural development, all other GRIDs will infuse the knowledge into this GRID for sustainable development, healthcare and good governance. For example, five of the Periyar PURA villages have now connected using Wi-MAX connectivity.

Integrated village knowledge centers: will act as an inter-connected delivery mechanism for tele-education tele-medicine and e-Governance services apart from individual access by the people, within and between the Village Knowledge Centres through the PURA Grid.

Bandwidth as an infrastructure: In order to make the country the most advanced knowledge society, we should aim at making the bandwidth available without hindrance and at no cost. Making the bandwidth available is like the Government laying the roads. Movement of materials through these roads creates wealth in the industrial economy and the government recovers more than the investment on the roads by way of taxes and enhanced prosperity of its people. In the modern digital economy driven by knowledge products, bits and bytes traverse the network and create wealth and this will recover the cost of investments in the bandwidth. Cost effective creation of the four Grids and inter connectivity between Grids is the profound platform for collaborative research, development and deployment.


Conclusion

      I have shared with you certain thoughts on development and also certain key accomplishments, which has been realized so far. There is substantial scope for co-operation between Africa and India, which can provide a better quality of life for the people of both nations. Both the countries have a large bio-diversity, substantial amount of natural resources and hard working human resources. Also, Africa and India are aspiring to become developed country. What we need is to identify the core competence of each one of us and match the core competence with the economic and societal needs of a particular nation. The connectivity is the key for marching towards our goal of development in a faster pace than what we have been doing so far. Knowledge creation, knowledge sharing and knowledge dissemination is the vital component for our growth. I am sure that the future Conclaves will provide focused opportunity for both the countries to move towards the development goals in a coherent manner.

My best wishes to the members of this Conclave in their mission of expanding the partnership horizons of India and Africa for their mutual benefits.
May God bless you.


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