Australia India Business Council (AIBC) launched the National Infrastructure Industry Chapter at a joint event with the High Commission of India, on 11 March 2021 at the Consulate General of India, Sydney office. The inaugural hybrid event provided an insight into the opportunities within the infrastructure sector on both sides with greater focus on participation of Australian Companies in the Indian Infrastructure space. The event was well attended in person and on webinar. Speakers represented both Indian and Australian governments and Business.
Event Moderator: Anand Singh, Chair-Infrastructure Chapter AIBC
The session highlighted significant potential for the industry from both sides to collaborate. The opportunities for the Indian companies especially within the digital transformation space in Australia and on the flip side Australian companies to engage with the massive opportunities in India within the entire Infrastructure ecosystem. The opportunities shared by Invest India and strategy to approach these opportunities as shared by Macquarie Group and AustralianSuper as well as Larsen & Toubro was empowering. Collaboration based on a shared sense of destiny and a future that works for all by putting people at the centre of decision making and social wellness was largely on display through the entire session.
Welcome Address: Mr Manish Gupta, Consul General India, Sydney
Acknowledging delegates from both Australia and India present in the meeting both in person and online, Consulate General set the tone for the meeting with several positive comments including, India’s massive vaccination program covering one and a half million people a day, the upbeat in the business sentiments globally, the V-Shaped economic recovery in India that is expected to grow eleven and a half percent this year and about brand India that continues to look outward to cooperate, collaborate and expand across wider horizons around the world.
Keynote Speech: HE Gitesh Sharma, High Commissioner of India
HE acknowledged the partnership of AIBC, the Indian High Commission team and the Consulate General of India Sydney, in bringing this event together. Australia is an inspiration to the rest of the world, with steps taken to keep its people safe and keep employment and the economy going at the same time during the global pandemic. For the Government of India, it is a priority to be an economic engine and with a forecast of over 11% growth for the country, which leads to huge expectations on the infrastructure especially with the need to sustain the level of growth. India is taking measures like easing business procedures, automating systems, and empowering a competitive environment between states and several others to encourage international business and now is the perfect moment for Australian businesses to jump into the Indian market. He referred to Australian companies engaged in large strategic projects in India as examples of strong collaborative outcomes. Similarly, for Indian companies facing challenges in the Australian market, one must take advantage of business, economic and commercial prospects and stay in the race to stay in the game. We are jointly committed to an expanded trade and investment relationship, which will benefit both economies.
Mr Bryce Hutchison, Deputy High Commissioner, Australia
The Australia India relationship is at an all-time high with Prime Minister, Scott Morrison elevating this to a comprehensive strategic partnership. Infrastructure has been identified as one of the priorities for commercial cooperation. The Indian economic strategy authored by former Australian High Commissioner to India, Peter Varghese has highlighted the substantial opportunity for closer links in infrastructure. Infrastructure will be a key focus for Austrade’s 2021, Australia, India Business exchange (AIB-X) which will launched in April. Australia has recently published a priority list of 44 new infrastructure proposals for our cities, regions, and remote communities. And this provides a $59 billion pipeline of investment opportunities across energy, water, digital connectivity, and the digital health sectors. India’s own infrastructure program entails earmarked projects valued in the order of a combined 2.1 trillion Australian dollars by 2023. We are looking to focus in on opportunities in three key sub sectors urban infrastructure, transport, and water. India has an urban population in excess of 400 million people, growing fast and an ambitious Smart-Cities agenda. India’s demand for quality and innovative urban infrastructure solutions is immense. Australian companies have the capabilities to support India’s urban expansion. He did also provide examples of Australian companies engaged in the transport and water management sectors in India.
Mr Troy Daly, Executive Director, Greater Sydney Commission
The ambitious infrastructure strategy changing Sydney, the Harbour City, to three distinctive global cities includes The Eastern City, Central City/Greater Parramatta, and Western Parkland City. Commission’s role is to look very carefully at the economic growth engine that sits in each of these cities. At Tech Central precinct in the Eastern City, the theme is “all things digital” and Westmead Precinct in Greater Parramatta, the focus is on health. The planned Aerotropolis in Western Parkland City will also make the most of the Western Sydney investment and infrastructure program to upgrade rail, roads, and motorways. For the first time in NSW the infrastructure, transport and planning agencies worked together to ensure that infrastructure was aligned with urban growth, with transport as the major infrastructure asset. Vital infrastructure development has highlighted digital services as an important glue in just about every industry sector.
Ms Prerna Soni, Senior Assistant Vice President, Invest India
The infrastructure growth in India, highlighting social, political, and economic reforms leads the country’s transformation. India is the world’s largest democracy with 600 million registered voters, with the youngest workforce and a projected consumption of $4 trillion by 2025, making it one of the largest economies and resource rich countries in the world. By 2024 Indians cities will have 863 million people, hence the planned infrastructure for 100 smart cities with 110 million houses. India was number one for Greenfield FDI for the years 2015 and 2016. Even last year, we received over 60 billion in FDI. More than 50% of that, interestingly was from institutional investors. We had large sovereigns, pension funds, private equity investing in the country. The national infrastructure pipeline launched in 2020 will have infrastructure projects worth $1.4 trillion, to be completed by 2025. This includes roads, railways, coastal developments, airports, and smart cities.
Mr Frank Kwok, Managing Director, MIRA Macquarie Group
The Macquarie Group has had major investment projects in India for over 15 years, employing 1500 staff and thousands more as employees and contractors working at our portfolio companies. The Indian market is a hard, but a rewarding one and that is why MIRA had made the long-term commitment with more than $2 billion worth of investments. The group’s infrastructure investments across India are focused on renewable energy, power, and transportation, both in roads and in aviation. Initially, the group invested and worked with local JV Partner, a company called Ashoka and through that we developed our knowledge of the industry. But over time, we invested by ourselves and most recently we were successful in the first large privatization of toll roads by the National Highways Authority of India in late 2018. We acquired the company and named it Safeway Concessions. Safeway Concessions is part of MIRA’s aim to not just have infrastructure investment for natural returns, but to work with the National Highways Authority of India to bring the world’s best practice in terms of operations, and importantly, safety to the Indian roads network. In addition to infrastructure, the group has an investment bank and is one of the largest foreign brokers based in India. More importantly, we see ourselves as a part of the community and in that respect, our foundation has invested very much across many social causes in the country.
Mr Sailesh Pathak, CEO, Larsen & Toubro (L&T)
L&T is an 80-year-old company in India. It is in the top 15 construction companies of the world. And if ever you fly from Australia to India, 90% of the time you would be landing in an airport built by L&T. We are present in almost every sector that was discussed by Invest India. Most of our infrastructure in India is not going to happen, intercity. The transportation links, the highways, the railways, the gas pipelines, the transmission towers will get taken care of in the next 5-10 years. A lot of urban infrastructure will come up within the cities. Fifteen years from now most of these cities (discussed in the presentation), will double in size and population, signifying areas where time & resources should be invested. We have set up an ambitious business line in L&T called Smart World and Cities. We are already present in most of these 100 smart cities that we talked about. Collaboration with Australia. there are three ways in which we can create mutual cash flow. One is the brain power that you have, so advisories or consulting. The second is products or services or technologies that you have, that we can use and vice versa. And the third is Australian dollars.
Mr Nik Kemp, Head of Infrastructure, AustralianSuper
AustralianSuper has now been investing in India over the last 10 to 15 years. We find it is important to invest with people and organisations that see investment in the same way we do and are incentivized to get the returns that that we are after as well. AustralianSuper is the largest superannuation fund in Australia with a bit over $200 billion of funds under management, that has doubled in the last five years. Given the growth and deciding on best places to invest it was difficult not to look at India for obvious reasons. The reforms that have taken place particularly over the last five to eight years like the tax reforms, the removal of some of the foreign ownership restrictions, the technology that we have seen coming into India in the infrastructure space continues to support our decision. I would like to also compliment the Indian Government’s National Investment Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), a system which other countries are looking at and will be following. There is a strong incentive working with the partners of that organisation while investing in India to ensure we are able to get the desired returns out of the assets and also ensure the investment is for a cause that is really good for the country. AustralianSuper has over a one and a half billion dollars currently invested in India. As our fund grows and infrastructure programs grows from 20 to 40 billion over the next four or five years, our investment in India will potentially double.
Mr Vikas Tatwani, Associate VP, Infosys Cloud & Infrastructure
There is a compelling case for infrastructure to be smart because for every dollar that the taxpayer invests, the return is approximately $9. Investment in Smart Cities is expected to double to US$800 billion in 2025 (from US $400 billion in 2020) totalling more than US$1.4 trillion. This will not only provide big opportunities for physical infrastructure, but also opportunities in making that infrastructure smart with connected countries enabled through technologies like The Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, Cloud computing and much more. Despite the immense infrastructure development opportunities, a one sided top-down approach that focuses merely on monetizing technology will not succeed. It is especially important to design any such initiative, keeping the citizens and residents at its heart to drive a consistent and continuous engagement.
The Q&A session with keen participation from in-person and online attendees and all the accomplished speakers of the evening.
Vote of Thanks: Ms Sanushka Seomangal, AIBC Vice Chair
To sum up from what I have taken on today, partnerships, perseverance and a commitment to the course are key to successfully undertaking infrastructure investment in India. The opportunities are real, live, and growing rapidly. On behalf of Jim Varghese, National Chair thank you for joining us today for the launch of our infrastructure chapter. Full credit to Anand and his team in bringing today together. Thank you to the High Commissioner, thank you to the Consul General for your support as always for hosting us so generously.
The AIBC is a not-for-profit organization facilitating and linking businesses, exporters and investors in Australia and India.
|Mr Jim Varghese AM|
Australia India Business Council Ltd
M: +61 474 739 479
|Mr Anand Singh|
Infrastructure Industry Chapter Chair
Australia India Business Council Ltd
M: +61 425 255 540