Amadou Moustapha Diouf, Senegalese ambassador in India: "India offers a potential of training which is not yet availed of by Senegal"
Designated as Ambassador of Senegal to India since June 2010, Mr. Amadou Moustapha Diouf assumed function in August 2010 at the Senegalese diplomatic mission based in New Delhi. Having spent much of his professional life at the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah and the World Bank in Washington (1980-2005) before leading the Atlantic Bank of Burkina Faso and that of Niger (2005-2009), he came back to Senegal in 2009 and has served as Special Adviser to the Prime Minister. During a study trip organized by the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for around 10 heads of African media organizations, the Senegalese Ambassador in India gave an interview to “Le Soleil" and to the Senegalese daily newspaper “Wal Fadjri”.
Query: As a bank Officer you were not predestined to become an ambassador. How do you explain this shift?
Reply: Because of my charges at the Islamic Development Bank and at the World Bank, I had to often visit the member countries as representative of these institutions. I can then say that on these occasions, I used to play the role of an ambassador of these major development banks. Therefore, being appointed as Ambassador to India is not a shift but continuity.
Query: What explains this option of the Authorities to build on economists / financials, rather than on trained diplomats?
Reply: I do not think we should address the subject this way. We are all Senegalese at the service of our country. The President of the Republic designates his Ambassadors as per his own criteria for selection, taking into account the specificities and realities of the host country. Thus, the Generals of the Army, economists and financials, may be appointed as Ambassadors without being career diplomats.
It should however be noted that the need to focus on economic diplomacy is now universally recognized. In a number of countries, our heads of mission are more directly involved in the management of economic and financial files. Their experiences in this area give successful results which benefit our country. It is necessary not only to encourage this trend, but to ensure that our best talent is made available at this end.
Query: Do you have a Senegalese community to manage?
Reply: Apart from the Senegalese-based staff of the Embassy and their families, only 03 persons are registered at the Senegalese embassy.
Query: What challenges do you face as an ambassador of Senegal to Delhi?
I do not come across any particular difficulties in carrying out my duties. However, although I aspire to give priority to the private sector development and business opportunities between our two countries and to make it an integral part of our embassy’s activities, it remains a large party for investment in a successful partnership by the private sector of both countries.
The Indian private sector is greatly interested in partnership with our businessmen in order to set up industries in Senegal, as substitution to imports or export-oriented. It is important to remind that the Exim Bank of India has just introduced a new product called "buyer’s loan" for the financing by the bank of the import of goods and services from India. This buyer’s loan is supported by an export loan insurance provided by the "National Export Insurance Account".
Generally, the loan amount does not exceed 85% of the value of the contract. The rate of interest is linked to the cost of the resources of Exim bank funds plus a margin. The period of repayment of the loan is spread over 5 to 8 years. However, a longer period for reimbursement of the loan could be considered, if justified.
I greatly regret that the Senegalese private sector does not yet avail of these opportunities and facilities granted by Exim Bank, which opened its regional office in Dakar. Senegalese businessmen do not know much about India due to the distance and language barriers.
Query: India offers scholarships to Senegal, but they are not utilised. Is it due to a lack of communication?
Reply: Indeed, there is a real lack of communication that we are correcting. As part of its program to support and assist African countries in the field of education and training, the Government of India grants annual scholarships and vocational training programmes to citizens from our continent.
Under this framework Senegal was granted 25 scholarships for vocational training for the period 2010-2011 against 35 in 2008-2009. This decrease is explained by the under-utilization of this quota. Indeed, only 08 slots were utilised against the 35.
In addition, to enable Senegalese students to pursue studies in the first and second grades in India, for 2010-2011, 15 scholarships for higher education have been offered to our country by India but none of them has been utilised till date.
This program includes academic training in varied and important fields in which India avails of considerable comparative advantages. Among others, these include: New Technologies of Information and Communication, Management, Environment and Renewable Energies, Small and Medium Enterprises, Rural Development. India is ready to increase the number of slots allotted to Senegal, subject to the full utilisation of the existing ones. Moreover, India has world-class universities and vocational training centres which are ready to welcome Senegalese students and government officials.
Query: What are your plans at this end?
Reply: The Minister of Higher Education, Universities and Regional Academic Centres (Cur) and Scientific Research has been informed and he intends to make the required arrangements for a better use of the slots offered by India.
Query: In India, Bombay is the city that especially attracts most of Senegalese businessmen and businesswomen. Have you considered establishing a consulate or diplomatic office there?
Reply: The opening of a Consulate in this city is a decision to be taken by the concerned authorities of our country and requires a procedure that I shall not mention here. Senegal's diplomatic presence in Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, would allow a further development of the consular and economic relations between our two countries in the Indian Territory and would facilitate the exploitation of India’s significant potential.
In addition to its primary mission to assist and protect the interests of our compatriots in Mumbai and in the South of India, such a diplomatic representation would also supplement the role of interface played by our embassy to enable Senegal to get available the methodologies, approaches, technologies and solutions that have ensured the economic self-sufficiency and emerging of India. This will mark the presence of Senegal in the economic and financial capital of the Indian Union which records a considerable flow of economic activities in the country and is a must for many Senegalese who travel to India for their business.
Query: Can we get an idea of the quantum of the Indo-Senegalese cooperation?
Reply: The present strategic partnership between Senegal and India is anchored on a foundation built up by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Senegal during his two official visits to India in October 2003 and in April 2008. In fact, the Head of State availed of the opportunity of these visits to lay down the foundations of the axle New Delhi - Dakar and a new dynamic impulse to the bilateral cooperation, which has since then registered a quantitative and qualitative development.
India has made available to Senegal concessional lines of credit worth CFA 100 billion francs to finance projects in the following areas: agriculture, supplies of buses and pick-ups, alleviation of women’s poverty, irrigation and rice self-sufficiency, railways, rural electrification for which the loan agreement for financing the second phase of the project was signed on April 21, 2011, modernization of fishing, information and communication, supply of medical equipment to four hospitals in Senegal.
The trade exchanges between India and Senegal have exceeded CFA francs 200 billion in 2010, against CFA 60 billion in 2003. It should be recalled that the Indian Prime Minister announced at the last Africa-India, the following decisions taken by India towards Africa: allocation of USD 5 billion over the next three year as assistance to African countries for achievement of the millennium development goals, allocation of USD 700 million for capacity building of its human resources.
We are in discussion with the Indian authorities in order to obtain for Senegal a substantial budget to fund out our priority projects.
Query: Announced in Eastern Senegal, Arcelor Mittal has suddenly withdrawn its activities. What happened?
Reply: The reasons given by Mittal are related to the financial crisis that has affected his ability. As negotiations are going on between both parties on this matter, I cannot say more.
Query: We have learnt that the Indians intend to assist Senegal in the field of Energy. What exactly is the position?
Reply: India has always supported the Senegal in the implementation of energy policy. Thus it has granted to Senegal for a line of credit worth CFA francs 14 billion for financing rural electrification projects. This project comes in addition to a first phase of CFA francs 12 billion.
The Indian authorities have expressed a sincere desire to assist us in improving our capacity for generating electricity and developing our network for distribution of energy. Discussions are underway on this subject.
Interview in New Delhi by our special correspondent Mr. Cheikh Thiam