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Sunil Mittal at CII Partnership Summit 2023

The massive possibilities of digital infrastructure are amplified and showcased here in India, Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal said on Tuesday as he emphasised that the ‘India model’ which is frugal and low cost can be implemented by the African nations.

India “truly has done remarkable work in skilling, education, and in… early stages… in healthcare through digital intervention,” Mittal said, while addressing CII partnership Summit 2023 here.

He was speaking at a session on the ‘Role of Global Businesses in Facilitating African Economic Integration’.

“What has become possible with advent of digital infrastructure is absolutely amplified and showcased here in India. Why will we not lift and shift a lot of these modules into Africa,” he said.

Mittal advocated that the India model must be applied to Africa, given that the solutions and digital stacks created and successfully deployed here, are frugal and low cost, and suited to paying capabilities of consumers.

Speaking on the need for more measures to uplift Africa, Mittal said African continent (consisting of 55 nations under African Union) have less than two per cent of world’s manufacturing which clearly suggests that Africa has fallen behind in the last several decades’.

“There is a heightened awareness of what is going on in Africa and bigger powers are now moving away just from agenda of aid and support to getting into real action… to ensure they can intervene with various tool they can command to create economic upliftment in the entire African continent,” he said.

Africa needs to be seen from a different lens, he said adding that while people are getting fast and furiously connected to internet, there are many who are left behind for the lack of high-speed reliable connectivity.

“Digital connectivity requires more attention and India has shown that while physical infrastructure can take years if not decades, it is the digital infrastructure that can take care of absence of physical infrastructure,” he said.

India’s much-talked about digital stack—Aadhaar, fintech, and mobile or the famous Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile combination—”is the right approach to apply into Africa, so they can get to very high quality digital connectivity across the entire continent.”

“A lot of work has been done, billions of dollars have been poured in, but much more needs to be done. More fibre needs to be laid out, more submarine cable needs to be brought onto shores of Africa and of course a lot more mobile towers need to be put up,” Mittal said. PTI

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