India turns to east Africa for minerals after China setback

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SummaryPower companies like Jindal Power and Tata Group are setting up power plants in countries like Botswana and Zambia.

After being beaten by Chinese players in the quest for mineral assets in west Africa, Indian firms like state-owned ONGC, Oil India and private players such as RIL and Cairn have now set their eyes on the eastern part of the continent, which is fast emerging as a key supplier of minerals especially liquified natural gas ( LNG) and coal.

Sources said Indian oil sector players are already scouting for investment opportunities in oil and gas sector in Mozambique and Tanazania. Power companies like Jindal Power and Tata Group are setting up power plants in countries like Botswana and Zambia.

Webber Wentzel, a Johannesburg-based firm that provides legal and advisory services to foreign companies interested in investing in mineral sector in Africa, is quite upbeat on prospects of business from Indian companies.

“Indian companies should not miss out on investment opportunities in east Africa,” said Robert Appelbaum, head of Webber Wentzel Group's South Asia division who, along with other senior executives of his firm, is currently on a visit to India to interact with companies interested in investing in Africa's mineral assets.

He added that regulatory regimes in African countries have also become more transparent in recent years. The visiting held meetings with senior executives of oil and gas companies in Delhi on Monday and Tuesday and plan to interact with bankers from ICICI Bank and Yes Bank in Mumbai on Wednesday.

West Africa has been the favourite hunting ground for Indian and Chinese oil firms looking for acquisition opportunities abroad.

However, Chinese companies like Sinopec and CNPC have garnered most of the acquisition opportunities that came up in west African countries like Angola and Ghana. Sources said state-owned Gail and private company BG India are also looking for business opportunities in east African countries, sources said.

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