Cross-continental collaboration

[Image] The programme aims to foster lasting relationships between young people from India and Africa.
(Image: Indiafrica)

[Image] The Indian high commissioner Virendra Gupta (right) with Sudhir Horo, co-founder of theIdeaWorks.
(Image: Janine Erasmus)

[Image] This year’s poster competition is held under the theme “What does freedom kean to you?”
(Image: Indiafrica)

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MediaClubSouthAfrica.com reporter

Virendra Gupta, the Indian high commissioner in South Africa, has introduced the Indiafrica Festival 2013, which takes place in Johannesburg between 13 and 24 May.

The festival marks the culmination of the second edition of Indiafrica: A shared future, an initiative which is specifically targeted at young people from both countries. It aims to mobilise them to work together as well as compete, using their skills and interests for innovation and entrepreneurship in the fields of business, design and culture.

“This is a large youth outreach project,” said Gupta, “and it focuses also on building people-to-people relationships.”

He explained that the first edition of the programme was launched in 2011 in Nairobi and Lagos, and continued into 2012, with outreach activities held in India, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Mozambique. Gupta said that Indiafrica attracted 3 617 registrations from India and 20 African countries, and through its social media platforms it reached 46-million young people. The initiative has almost 205 000 likes on Facebook, and 13 600 Twitter followers.

It also shared some of the spotlight on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos in January 2013, where the winners of the first business venture competition – India’s Zubaida Bai and Kennedy Kitheka from South Africa – presented their winning ideas to an audience of African and Indian CEOs on Indiafrica Day.

This year’s programme involved over 5 000 young participants from across India and 36 African countries.

Indiafrica is managed by theIdeaWorks, a communication design and strategy agency based in Gurgaon, Haryana state. It’s supported by the Indian government’s Ministry of External Affairs.

Benefiting from emerging opportunities

This year Indiafrica is bigger and better, said Gupta. “So much is happening as a result of the relationship between our two countries. Why should not young people also benefit from the emerging opportunities?”

Through various events such as workshops, competitions, fellowships, internships and cultural exchanges including music, art, essay writing and photography, the programme encourages young people to tackle unemployment by using their talents, partnering with others, and involving their communities.

Wits Business School will host the finals of the second business venture competition on May 16, with four teams from each region vying for two grand prizes. One Indian and one African winner will again receive an all-expenses trip to Davos in January 2014, where they will participate in the proposed Indiafrica Youth Hub there.

The University of Johannesburg’s faculty of art, design and architecture will host the announcement of the winner of the second poster competition. “We were very pleased to be asked to be a partner in this worthy collaboration,” said Deirdre Pretorius, head of the graphic design department. “Our participation also involved putting together a pan-African judging panel, and organising an exhibition of last year’s and this year’s winning poster designs.”

The theme for the 2013 poster competition was What freedom means to you and, said Pretorius, the standard of entries was high.

Other highlights include a screening of the acclaimed animated film Arjun: the warrior prince and a workshop on storytelling through animation given by its director Arnab Chaudhuri; a fashion design workshop with Anuj Sharma, who creates his garments with buttons, rubber bands and no stitching; a music performance by Joi Barua, one of India’s most popular singers; a blogging workshop; and a mini-film festival featuring award-winning films by Indian students.

Indiafrica also has a fellowship programme called Young Visionaries, who are chosen through a rigorous selection process. The programme focuses on entrepreneurs from Africa and India and offers opportunities for growth and collaboration, while encouraging an exchange of ideas. This will result in increased future trade, and a better understanding on both sides of the challenges and opportunities for doing business in the two regions.