Indian-owned Swami fills Accra’s accommodation gap with $12 mn estate

Apr 2, 2018 0

By Francis Kokutse

Accra– As the Ghanaian government struggles to find a solution to the country’s accommodation problem, Indian-owned Swami International has stepped in with a $12 million, 12.4 acre Paradise Estates township made up of 102 houses in the capital Accra.

This is part of the company’s $50 million investment in real estate across two other West African countries, Gambia and Senegal, its General Manager, Tarun Singh, told IANS.

Swami entered the West African real estate market two years ago, Singh said, in response to an African Development Bank (AfDB) report that the continent “was growing with an urbanisation rate of 3.4 per cent, with cities across the continent experiencing the fastest urban growth rate globally. Unfortunately, it looks like this is not being matched by the ability to provide affordable houses”.

He said the Swami Group entered a market that has real demand and is perhaps providing what governments across the continent are not able to do.

The international real estate group, Knight Frank, in a report on Africa’s real estate sector for 2017, said rapid population growth across Africa — faster than any other global region — together with urbanisation, is driving the property market activity across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Singh said the company had already completed a similar project in Senegal and had moved on to a second one at Diamniodo, a new development at the new airport.

“Our decision to come to West Africa is due to the peace and security we find in the countries that we are operating in,” he added.

Singh, however, said there were some problems that needed to be solved, including skilled workers to be engaged on large-scale housing projects and poor utility services, in order to attract more investors into the real estate sector in the three countries.

In addition to the provision of houses in Gambia, Singh said the company has also provided rural electrification and boreholes for the people. “In addition, we have also ventured into agriculture with the cultivation of potatoes in Senegal and bananas in the Gambia,” he said.

The AfDB has identified a huge deficit in the real estate sector which it said had hit the poor hard because of affordability and this had remained a key challenge to developing the housing finance market. (IANS)

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India should open up solar PV market: Chinese manufacturer

Mar 29, 2018 0

By Biswajit Choudhury

Changzhou (China)– Trina Solar of China, the largest manufacturer of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels globally and India’s biggest supplier, awaits further easing of business conditions for the sector to begin production in the country for which the company has acquired land in Andhra Pradesh, according to Chairman and CEO Gao Jifan.

In an exclusive chat here with Indian reporters on the sidelines of the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Chinese solar giant, Gao said he also had occasions to speak about the importance of developing the Indian solar market with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a time the country is in a mission mode on solar energy as a co-founder of the Gurugram-headquartered International Solar Alliance.

The sheer scale of Trina’s achievements testify to its pride of place in China, which has been struggling with its own emission problems. Founded in 1997, it became the first solar PV maker to be listed in the New York Stock Exchange in 2006. The company has already shipped 32 gigawatt (GW), or 32,000 megawatt (MW), of modules to the rest of the world. Its products are available in 70 countries and shipments last year alone amounted to 9 GW.

Trina, which specialises in the manufacture of crystalline silicon PV modules and system integration, currently has about 10 per cent share of the global market. It also produces ingots, wafers and solar cells. It has over 20 per cent share in the Indian market and has cumulatively supplied 3 GW of equipment.

Gao explained that while India will continue to be a prime market for Trina, module-making is a high-investment activity and costs of manufacturing in India are very high. Solar power tariffs, as discovered through competitive bidding, have, however, been falling at the same time and are currently below Rs 2.50 per unit.

“Unfortunately, PV manufacturing lacks a supply chain in India and we prefer to import equipment from overseas,” Gao said.

“If costs of making in India do not support the economics of production for the customer, it makes our job difficult. Our basic principle is to provide value for the customer. If the local customer cannot afford our products, that makes it difficult for us to produce,” he said.

Another gap in India is the lack of reliable power supply for production, he said.

The company has signed an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government to set up a manufacturing plant with an investment of Rs 2,800 crore. Around 90 acres of land have been earmarked for the proposed unit at Atchutapuram in Visakhapatnam district. State Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has said the factory would create employment opportunities for 3,500 people.

Trina had, in 2014, supplied 600,000 panels for India’s largest solar project of 151 MW at Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh.

“I hope India opens up the PV market,” Gao said, underlining the importance of producing locally if Trina wants to grow in the country. However, the lack of a developed domestic supply chain means that production is not cost-competitive. Nearly 90 per cent of India’s solar panels are imported, while Indian manufacturers have to depend on accessories from China.

India’s national solar programme, launched in 2010, has a domestic content requirement clause in order to protect and encourage local industry. It mandates that a solar power producer compulsorily source a certain percentage of solar cells and modules from local manufacturers in order to be able to benefit from the government guarantee to purchase the energy produced.

In this connection, a World Trade Organisation panel has earlier ruled that India’s domestic content requirement for the solar sector is inconsistent with its treaty obligations.

Besides, cheaper Chinese imports have provoked industry bodies like the Indian Solar Manufacturers’ Association to demand safeguard levies and anti-dumping duties.

On the other hand, with the sharp fall in solar and wind tariffs in India, as well as in equipment costs, government incentives had dried up, according to solar stakeholders.

A recent report by global accounting firm KPMG says that in the absence of strong local manufacturing, India will need to import $42 billion of solar equipment by 2030, corresponding to 100 GW of installed capacity.

The latest Bloomberg New Energy Finance report on the Indian solar sector, titled “Trade Dispute Overshadows Rising Market”, projects India’s solar cells and PV market, currently at 8.6 GW, to cross 12 GW by 2020. Around 90 per cent of Indian imports of PV cells and modules last year came from China and were worth over $3 billion.

Gao also said that Trina has set up a new business vertical to develop the rooftop solar market for the residential segment, as well as for big and small industry, the total size of which in India is around 1 GW. (IANS)

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Canadian fund invests $20 mn in Nilekani promoted firm

Mar 29, 2018 0

Bengaluru– Canadian institutional fund CDPQ on Thursday said it had invested $20 million in Indian venture Fundamentum, promoted by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani and Helion founder Sanjeev Agarwal.

“La Caisse de depot et placement du Qurbec (CDPQ) joins Fundamentum board by investing $20-million (Rs 130 crore) in its first growth fund,” said the city-based seed firm in a statement here.

The unspecified equity stake will enable the Montreal-based CDPQ to explore direct investments in Fundamentum’s portfolio firms.

As a scale-up platform for mid-stage tech firms in India, Fundamentum benefits from the rich experience of Nilekani and Aggarwal along with a network of Indian entrepreneurs and key investors.

“With $100-million target, Fundamentum Partnership-Fund I will invest $15 million in start-ups in consumer and enterprise technology businesses across retail, logistics, travel and outsourcing,” it said in the statement.

Fundamentum will also combine financial and intellectual capital to scale the businesses across verticals.

The strategic investment will help CDPQ to diversify its activities in India, which is a priority market.

“We will benefit from CDPQ’s knowledge of global trends and investment expertise. Both the partners are bullish on the opportunity to build global organisations out of India over the decade and beyond,” said Nilekani.

Lauding the track record of Fundamentum management team in the tech sector, CDPQ Chief Executive Michael Sabia said by fostering investments and mentoring new firms, his team gave entrepreneurial approach aligned with its fund.

“As India ranks as the world’s third largest start-up hub, our partnership will enable the selected start-ups to scale their businesses and participate in the fast-growing parts of the country’s economy,” he said.

With $238 billion net assets, CDPQ invests globally in major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private debt. As a long-term investor, it manages funds primarily for public and insurance plans.

Fundamentum will lead investment rounds from $10-25 million in companies that have attained the product market fit, have an initial momentum and are looking to scale up. (IANS)

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India, Egypt review bilateral ties

Mar 23, 2018 0

New Delhi– As New Delhi continues to increase is engagements with the Arab world, India and Egypt on Friday discussed the entire gamut of bilateral ties here.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry co-chaired the seventh session of the India-Egypt Joint Commission Meeting.

“Both leaders discussed entire gamut of bilateral issues and also held deliberations on how to deepen and diversify the bilateral cooperation between India and Egypt,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“They also discussed regional, international and multilateral issues of mutual interest,” it stated.

Shoukry later called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the two dignitaries “discussed the shared commitment of India and Egypt to strengthen bilateral engagement”, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement.

“Deepening of cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, trade and investment and people-to-people relations was discussed,” the PMO said.

India and Egypt share close political understanding based on long history of contacts and cooperation on bilateral, regional and global issues.

Friday’s meetings assume significance given the importance being attached to India’s role in the Middle East peace process.

On Thursday, Shoukry, delivering a speech on “Regional Developments and Prospects of India-Egypt Relations” organised by the Vivekananda International Foundation think tank here, said that “India has traditionally been supportive of peace and stability in the Middle East and should play a more active role in the region”.

With Modi’s standalone visit to Palestine last month, the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister, Shoukry said that “India has a principled position as to the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and its weight in international relations is very important”.

“Its involvement and as an active interlocutor in what is internationally recognised that the two-state solution is the end of the conflict, that advocacy in itself, being able to communicate, being an interlocutor to all the participants provides Prime Minister Modi a very special ability to move the process forward and encourage the participants to the values of peace and stability and to open new doors of cooperation with all,” he said. (IANS)

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350 Chinese firms attend Invest in India event

Mar 23, 2018 0

By Gaurav Sharma

Beijing– About 350 Chinese companies on Friday attended a seminar about the opportunities to invest in India’s electronics sector. The event was organised in the city of Shenzhen, also called China’s Silicon Valley.

Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, made a strong push for Chinese electronics firms moving to India and taking advantage of the phased manufacturing programme introduced by the Indian government.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Amit Narang, emphasised how the leaders of India and China believe that when it comes to Sino-Indian relations, 1 plus 1 is equivalent to 11.

“This highlights the complementarity between Indian and Chinese companies, taking advantage of which Chinese companies should invest in India,” an official statement quoted Narang as saying.

Fiona Li from Huawei Co Ltd shared the company’s experience of investing successfully in India.

Representatives from Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Nagaland participated in the event. (IANS)

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Dubai’s Meraas eyes Indian buyers for premium residences

Mar 22, 2018 0

Hyderabad– Property investors and high net worth Indians can now own premium residences in Dubai with Meraas, a Dubai-based holding company, marketing its new venture ‘Bluewaters’ in India through Australia’s Raine & Horne.

The company at its roadshows in Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai is offering a flexi payment plan for those looking to buy the residential units in the project coming up on manmade island off the Jumeirah beach residence coastline in Dubai.

The project comprises 698 one to four bedroom apartments, four penthouses and 17 villas with price ranging from about Rs 3.5 crore (for a one-bed room apartment) to Rs 70 crore (penthouse).

Raine & Horne, a global services company based in Australia, will begin the marketing in India with first roadshow here on March 25 and 26.

Sanjay Chimnani, Managing Director of Raine and Horne Dubai told reporters that they expect to sell 100 units at the roadshows in the three cities.

“This is high-end big size products priced reasonably. We are targeting all those who can afford to pay Rs 75 lakh upfront,” he said.

The company is offering four-year payment plan with zero percent interest. The customers can book the units by paying 10 percent of the cost. They have to pay another 10 percent at the time of delivery in October and 5 percent every four months.

With 9 to 10 percent growth in rental income, the investors can pay the installment with their earnings from the rent, he said.

Indians in Dubai are among biggest foreign investors in Dubai’s real estate. Quoting Dubai’s land records department, he said people of Indian nationality purchased real estate worth Rs 30,000 crore in 2017, up from about Rs 22,000 crore the previous year.

“This number is going to grow further with Dubai’s population expected to be doubled by 2030,” he said.

The freehold area, where expatriates are allowed to buy property, has 250,000 units while another 170,000 are expected to be added in next five years. (IANS)


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India wants multi-polar world, ready to join world leaders: Minister

Mar 21, 2018 0

New Delhi– India wants a multi-polar world and is ready to take its “well-deserved place” among the leading nations, Union Minister of State for Corporate Affairs P.P. Chaudhary on said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the inaugural of the 18th International Competition Network Annual Conference here, the Minister, according to an official statement, said: “There is a growing need to follow a phased, flexible and planned approach to global anti-trust cooperation.”

It is essential to overcome the challenges in cross-border investigations and mergers while confronting different legal systems, diverse evidence collection mechanisms and so on, he added.

Speaking at the event, Competition Commission of India Chairperson D.K. Sikri said the issues related to big data, artificial intelligence, internet of things and blockchain, among others, can pose a number of competition challenges. (IANS)

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Airbnb ties up with NEC, NEDC to boost tourism in northeast India

Mar 19, 2018 0

New Delhi– Community-driven online hospitality platform Airbnb on Monday said it has tied up with the North Eastern Council (NEC) and the North East Development Council (NEDC) to expand tourism in northeast India through its global platform.

“Through the partnership, the NEC, NETDC and Airbnb will collaborate to boost tourism and create positive travel experiences for both domestic and international visitors to the north east of India,” Airbnb said in a statement.

The statement said under the MoU, the NEC, NETDC and Airbnb agree to improve the quality of homestay facilities and unique properties in the northeast, provide and promote outstanding tourism resources, and cooperate to improve the regulatory environment for home sharing in the region.

Airbnb has also tied up with North East Rural Livelihood Project (NERLP) and North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Society (NERCRMS) to generate technology-enabled livelihood opportunities in tourism and hospitality for micro-entrepreneurs in the northeast, and to help low-income families monetise their existing assets through home sharing.

“Under these agreements, Airbnb will provide training to core teams of the NERLP and NERCRMS, which will further train existing and potential hosts on home sharing, responsible hosting, hospitality standards, hygiene and basic amenities,” the statement added. (IANS)

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Bharti Airtel to raise Rs 16,500 cr via NCDs, foreign currency bonds

Mar 12, 2018 0

Mumbai– Telecom major Bharti Airtel’s board on Monday approved a plan to raise around Rs 16,500 crore through issue of non-convertible debentures (NCD) and foreign currency bonds.

The company’s board has approved “issuance of non-convertible debentures of up to Rs 10,000 crore on a private placement basis”, the company said in a regulatory filing to the BSE.

The foreign currency bonds up to a limit of $1 billion (around Rs 6,500 crore) would be issued in one or more tranches, it said.

“Any funds, if raised from the issuance of aforesaid debt securities, shall be used in routine treasury activities, including refinancing of existing debt and spectrum liabilities,” the filing added. (IANS)

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Sri Lanka tourist arrivals grow in February

Mar 9, 2018 0

Colombo– Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka exceeded 200,000 in February, a 19.3 percent growth compared to the same period last year, mainly due to a strong rise from China, statistics from the Sri Lanka Tourism Ministry showed on Friday.

China emerged as the leading market for incoming tourists, followed by India and the United Kingdom, reports Xinhua news agency.

A total of 35,929 tourists arrived from China in February, a 42.3 percent increase from the same period last year. India recorded over 32,000 tourists while over 23,000 arrived from the United Kingdom.

So far this year, 474,542 tourists have visited Sri Lanka, a 13.8 percent growth compared to last year.

Region wise, Europe continued to be the largest source of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with a 52 percent growth followed by Asia and Pacific with a 41 growth. America recorded a 5 percent growth and the Middle East a 2 percent growth.

Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said the country hoped to attract at least 1 million tourists from China per year by 2020.

Overall Sri Lanka received more than 2.3 million tourists last year, the highest ever in history. (IANS)


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