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Chennai: Indian Jewel of South-eastern Economic Growth

Wednesday, 14th April 2021
Tony Kikomeko of the Mission and CTA magnate Vinod Saraogi examine leather products at Global Leather Ltd, an SME in Chennai

The city of Chennai by the Bay of Bengal in the south-east of the sub-continent country of India is a bustling economic base of one of the most industrialised and digitalised States in the country. The city is at the heart of the trajectory of socio-economic transformation of India from a low income economy to a high-end middle class economy. It is home to many industries including motor vehicle industries; motor spares industries; micro, small and medium enterprises;  and to globally famous health service provider giants such as Apollo Hospital and Aravind Eye Care Hospital.  Universities, technological institutes, software technology parks and high quality schools tutor and nurture the Indian human resource in arts and science disciplines; placing a high premium on research and innovation. Among other globally renowned service providers, Rotary International as well as the Inner Wing of Rotary all work to bring about  economic and social transformation by growing the Indian economy while providing services for the health, education and welfare of her human resource.

During a working visit to this vibrant city, the High Commissioner and her team interacted with key industrialists and social service providers who set the pace of economic activity in this part of India. The Mission team held a meeting with the visionary founder and leader of the famous health care chain of Apollo Hospitals, Dr Prathap Reddy. It sounded out this world renowned medical doctor on investment prospects in the Ugandan health care system.

The purpose of the visit to Chennai was to scout for and interest enterprising investors who had turned around this city and the Tamil Nadu region economic growth trajectory onto a consistent upward trend; to externalise their capital and technologies to Uganda. Looking for investors to start and accelerate economic transformation in Uganda, the Team met industrialists in various areas including mining, agriculture and agro-processing, in the cotton, textiles and apparel industry, in leather and lather products, in infrastructure development, in engineering, and in architecture. The Team discussed the additional challenges posed by the recent creation of cities which needed not only infrastructure, but their own plans for socio-economic growth.  The matter of low-to-medium-cost housing was considered in one of the meetings where ideas of pre-fabricated building solutions were proposed by a renowned architecture firm in this eastern region of India.

The Mission Team was highly impressed by the level of digitalisation by the State of Tamil Nadu. In discussions with the Additional Chief Secretary for IT of the State, the Team learnt of the highly digitalised government services in Tamil Nadu which included e-governance, e-learning, e-health as well as the digitalisation of the total State population data-base. With software technology parks within easy reach, the pursuit of digitalisation in Tamil Nadu had been taken to higher as well as practical levels including its use in the financing, growth and support for start-up SMEs. The Team noted specifically the advantages of youth engagement with digitalisation, the most fundamental of which was the skilling of youth.