Britain backs India’s solar alliance agenda

by India Inc. Staff

Some solid investments laid the groundwork for closer India-UK relations in recent weeks.

UK joins India-led International Solar Alliance

The UK joined the India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA) ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s four-day visit to Britain.

At an event held at the London Stock Exchange as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 (CHOGM), Britain formally announced its membership of the alliance, which aims to raise $1 trillion of private and public finance to provide affordable and sustainable energy for all by 2030.

The UK’s partnership will involve providing expertise and advice to the alliance, but no monetary contributions.

The Department for International Development (DfID) said its partnership of ISA, which it described as Modi’s flagship climate treaty, is aimed at giving over 1 billion of the world’s poorest people access to cheap, clean, and renewable energy.

The UK said its support for ISA will be to develop solar water pumping projects, where farmers can use cheaper solar power – rather than diesel pumps – to water their crops.

UK expertise will also help increase the number of “mini grids” supplying power to remote areas that cannot be reached by the main electricity grid.

The new collaboration means ISA will be able to make solar power cheaper by helping countries join forces to procure solar energy systems.

UK celebrates $21.4bn in India

British companies including BP and Vodafone invested $21.4 billion in India over the past decade, beating French and German companies put together, the UK government highlighted.

Dominic Asquith, UK’s high commissioner to India, said the investments include multi-billion dollar deals inked by oil and gas company BP with Reliance Industries and telecom operator Vodafone’s investments in India.

He said: “There is a need for government-to-government engagement on agreeing to frameworks for new areas of collaboration as there are commonalities between UK’s industrial strategy and the Modi government’s priority areas.”

Asquith said the UK and India were working together in the areas of cybersecurity, financial technology and data management and security as the exchange of goods, services and people between the two countries intensified.

The UK was introducing a new category of visas to facilitate the entry of ‘exceptional talent’ from India.

The high commissioner said multiple partnerships were in the works between the two countries in areas of high-end technology such as the use of artificial intelligence-based applications to facilitate the setting up of over 5,000 medical diagnostic centres across India and enabling over 100,000 clinics to be connected through technology.

UK forum plans $500mn fund to boost India ties

The Indian Professionals Forum (IPF), a UK-based non-profit think tank for diaspora related policy advocacy, is planning to spearhead an approximately $500-million fund, which will invest in technology ventures to attract Indian entrepreneurs to the UK.

The forum was in talks with the governments of both the countries to gain their support, said its President, Mohan Kaul, who is also the Executive Chairman of the Commonwealth Investment Corporation.

The forum was formed in the last quarter of 2017 with the support of the High Commission of India. It promotes networking and professional development for working Indians, who constitute about 50 per cent of the Indian population in the UK. The fund will provide an opportunity for the forum to promote trade relations between the UK and India, replicating US-India business relations.

The UK and Indian governments are expected to raise around 20 per cent of the fund and the rest will come from fund managers.

The IPF will be the promoter and will work with governments and asset management companies.

Technology such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, financial technology, payment methods, and IT-enabled services in payments, healthcare, will be the primary focus of the fund.

About the Author: India Inc. Staff