-Especially in the ocean space in areas of marine, maritime, ship building and ocean mining to name a few. Read the speech that Ann Ollestad, Consul General of Norway in Mumbai, gave on the NICCI Ocean Industries seminar in Bergen recently.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen
I feel myself privileged to be part of this grand gathering.
You would, perhaps, know that I served as Norway’s Ambassador to India and Bhutan from 2007 until 2012.
In September 2017, I took charge as Consul General of Norway in Mumbai, which is India’s financial capital. The aim was to increase business for Norwegian companies in India’s western region comprising of three important states – Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa.
Together these three key states contribute as much as 22.5 per cent to India’s GDP. Currently, the combined GDP growth of these three states is over 9 per cent, much higher than India’s average of about 6.7 per cent. The three states will play a significant role in pushing India’s GDP growth further as the country aims to grow at more than 8 per cent in the next few years.
The Consulate General (CG) in Mumbai is an active member of Team Norway and works in close coordination with the Embassy and all other Norwegian agencies including Norway Business Association in India (NBAI), Innovation Norway, Norwep and Seafood Council of Norway to realize Norway’s larger business objectives and goals in India.
India’s growing economy offers Norwegian companies with a range of opportunities, especially in the ocean space in areas of marine, maritime, ship building and ocean mining to name a few.
The maritime sector in India is particularly receiving a lot attention in the last few years with Sagarmala (string of ports) project, centered on the modernization of ports and development of new ones on India’s 7500 km coastline.
Norwegian companies are upbeat on business prospects in the area of defence shipbuilding. Indian Navy will be spending about USD 20 billion in the next 2-3 years in modernization of its coastguard fleet. This is expected to push demand for harbor utility tugs, auxiliary barges, Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) among other things in the next few years.
There is a concentration of maritime companies on these three states as four of India’s 12 major ports are in these western states and handle close to 40 per cent of India’s vessel and container traffic.
In November, I proceeded with a business delegation, organized jointly by CG and NBAI, comprising of 16 Norwegian companies to Goa and interacted with the state’s Chief Secretary, officials of Goa’s defense shipyard, Marmugoa port, a Maritime educational institute, journalists and members of local business chambers. Development of inland waterways and green shipping, (electric and LNG run vessels) is high on the state government’s agenda. This provides Norwegian companies opportunities in areas of ship design, development of navigation systems and equipment supplies.
In Gujarat, which is the home state of Indian PM Modi, LNG is a focus area. Gujarat is called as the LNG capital of India with two of India’s three terminals located in the state. They together handle 17.5 million MT of India’s 22 million LNG requirement per annum. Dr J N Singh, Gujarat’s Chief Secretary has evinced keen interest in sourcing LNG from Norway.
In fact in February, Innovation Norway India & DNV-GL jointly organized a seminar on LNG in Mumbai to communicate Norwegian expertise in LNG to the relevant stakeholders in India. The seminar, inaugurated by Birgit Løyland, Director General Maritime in Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry & Fisheries, was attended by more than 120 delegates from India’s LNG sector.
Mr. Narendra Taneja, a leading energy sector expert and the national spokesperson of India’s ruling party- the BJP- presented India’s macro energy outlook at the event. Taneja listed a number of areas where Norwegian businesses could help India’s capacity building in the LNG sector. Some of these included designing and development of LNG carriers and hybrid engines and equipment supply.
NORWEP alongwith Innovation Norway together will release a report on LNG sector in India and a delegation of Indian businesses to Norway is scheduled later this year.
While in Ahmedabad, I visited Aatash Norcontrol, an Indo-Norwegian joint venture, which is a market leader in Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) in India. The company offers its expertise to a number of Indian ports including Hazira, Dahej, Pipavav, Kandala (All Gujarat), Marmugao (Goa) and Chennai (Tamil Nadu).
We are now planning to take a business delegation to Ahmedabad in the last week of April to discuss issues around LNG supplies and explore other maritime opportunities in Gujarat.
Coming to Maharashtra, India’s most prosperous state: at USD 350 billion, the state’s economy is more than the size of Pakistan’s. Of all the Infrastructure projects envisaged by 2025 in India, worth USD 24 billion, Maharashtra accounts for over 50 per cent of these. This includes the development of a container terminal at Navi Mumbai port at an estimated cost of USD 2 billion.
Maharashtra has also placed ecological sustenance as a primary consideration in development of fisheries in its region; Norway is ranked high in dealing with the issue. Opportunities exists in supply of fishing equipment, procurement of high quality fishing nets, sourcing fishing vessels and drafts, developing of fishing land centers and seed production centers.
And then there is the element of skills training, where Maharashtra has set a target to skill 20 million people by 2025. However, rapid changes in technology means that the labor market is in a continuous reorganization mode, implying a need for constant updating of skills and learning in all areas of employment. As businesses and public sectors in India move into this transition, Norwegian companies could hugely benefit given their expertise in skilling.
In area of environment protection, the CG is actively involved in the Versova beach cleaning program in Mumbai, led by famous environmental activist Afroz Shah. The beach cleaning program has been in the headlines after it received support from India’s PM Narendra Modi. A number of high profile national and international agencies have since then got associated with the project.
During my visit to Nagpur, I met select group of scientists at NEERI, India’s environment agency, who have worked with NIVA in the past. We have principally agreed to work on environmental issues including policy making and awareness programs.
In higher education, there is a signing a MoU between Indian Institute of Technology- Bombay and the University of Agder, Norway in the next few days.
The Norwegian Companies are recognized for their technology and quality products but Indian firms find it expensive. There is, however, a niche segment for Norwegian high tech products. Sustained marketing efforts, networking and continuous dialogue with Indian stakeholders by Norwegian players will be key to ensure projects and business in the long run.
I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing other distinguished speakers.