In an exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online the Indian Ambassador to Mali, Anjani Kumar invited Indian entrepreneurs, from India as well as from those who are already present in this region, to come and explore the opportunities that Mali has to offer for mutual benefit.
Situated in the Sahel region of West Africa, Mali may appear distant from India on the world map, but there are synergies and stories between the two countries which the maps do not tell.
The Malian Government encourages and facilitates trade and investments in the country. In an exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online the Indian Ambassador to Mali, Anjani Kumar invited Indian entrepreneurs, from India as well as from those who are already present in this region, to come and explore the opportunities that Mali has to offer for mutual benefit.
“There is widespread goodwill in Mali for various aspects of India – richness of history, diversity of cultures, strong family values, respect for elders, friendship and solidarity with Africa, democracy and institutional strength, advancement in education, achievements in science and technologies, developmental journey since Independence and willing to share its experience with others, a balanced voice in international affairs, along with love and admiration for Indian films, music, soap operas, among other things,” India’s ambassador to Mali, Anjani Kumar tells Financial Express Online.
However, India-Mali relationship is not just based on symbolism. There are concrete examples of partnerships which are deepening the bilateral relationship and there exists enormous potential for collaboration for mutual benefit.
India in Mali
The 400 kilometres of high voltage electricity transmission line to connect Mali’s capital Bamako to its southern region, Sikasso, is the Indian government’s most important project in Mali. This is under its policy of development partnership through concessional Lines of Credit for key projects in friendly countries across the world.
According to Ambassador Kumar, “Three premier Indian companies, Kalpataru Power Transmission Limited (KPTL), Tata Projects and Mohan Energy, are executing this project which is expected to boost economic development and create new economic opportunities along the way. It is expected to be completed by the middle of 2022.”
“Mali Tracteurs SA, a Tractor Assembly plant on the outskirts of Bamako which assembles India’s Mahindra Tractors is a concrete example of the government’s development partnership through concessional lines of credit which has created a sustainable source of high-quality Tractors andAgro Machinery in Mali,” he adds.
India-Mali business, trade and investment partnerships
“The Malian Cashew Corporation SARL on the outskirts of Bamako is a shining example of how synergies between the two countries could be tapped for win-win partnership. Mali is rich in cashew plantations. However, there are not enough plants to process them for Malian and international markets where high quality cashews can fetch good prices,” the envoy says.
Realizing this potential, Indian entrepreneur Ashwin Patil decided to invest in a cashew processing plant. “What is admirable is that it provides direct employment to about 200 people, most of whom are Malians. To fill the demand-supply gap, Patil is planning to further expand the capacity and also include processing of locally grown sesame etc.”
The Indian envoy also highlighted bright prospects for win-win partnership between India and Mali: In food and agro-industries, among other sectors. For example, Mali has an abundance of high-quality mangoes which are available for the major part of the year. However, there is a lack of enough mango processing plants to reap the benefits from the large production. Lack of such processing plants result in huge waste of mangoes.
Another example of result-oriented partnership boosting economic development is the case of FERMALI SA in the Koulikoro Region of Mali which makes steel and construction materials like iron rods. It is a joint venture between the TRB Group of India and Mali Câbles of Mali. It is one of the largest manufacturers of Integrated Steel, Rolling Mills and TMT Bars in Mali.
“Recently I visited the plant and saw that the plant is not only running successfully; it is also in expansion mode. As a win-win partnership, FERMALI not only contributes to economic production in Mali, it is also a source of employment for over 100 Malians. Its Malian partner, Sidiki Doucouré who is owner of Mali Câbles, has been visiting India for the last 45 years, and his son also studied in India. Doucouré is fascinated by India and believes in business partnership between India and Mali,” shares the Indian envoy.
Another major example of partnership is the Diamond Cement Factory, the largest cement manufacturer in Mali. It is a win-win Indian investment in Mali which is playing an important role in economic growth of Mali by giving impetus to local production, creating wealth and also generating local employment for over 500 Malian nationals.
Mali is rich in gold reserves and recently Indians have ventured into this sector as well. Indian entrepreneurs Mallik Chennam, CEO of Supreme Minerals Corporation and Dinesh Kumar, General Manager of Mandin Gold Mining Sarl, are in the process of starting their gold mining ventures in Mali. It will further boost bilateral business and partnerships and create local employment, among other benefits.
In 2020, India’s NTPC was awarded the project management consultancy contract for the development of a 500 megawatt (MW) solar park in Mali. Indian companies like Mohan Energy Corporation have undertaken several power projects for various clients, including the government, in Mali.
Adding, “The thriving Indian community in Mali is engaged in numerous economic activities, from the supply of Made-in India two-wheelers which are becoming very popular as Moto-Taxis, wide range of machineries used in cotton oil and other agro-related industries, borewells, textiles, rice, tea, soaps, plastics, scrap, food and restaurants, white goods, logistics, tour and travel services etc.”
How can Mali benefit from the Indian experience, technologies and solutions?
“There is a general desire in Mali for greater presence of Indian investments, technologies, joint ventures and partnerships across various fields, particularly in agriculture and allied sectors including food processing industries, cotton and textiles, industries and mining, ICTs, pharmaceuticals and infrastructure development.”
“The basis for this desire for greater Indian presence and participation is an awareness of and admiration for India’s progress and achievements as a large, plural and diverse country which many feel can be easily replicated or applied in Mali with minor modifications given that both are large countries with young populations and similar socio-economic challenges,” Ambassador Anjani Kumar adds.