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India, African Officials Discuss Specific Framework to Boost Ties

Published: 26th October 2015 10:36 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th October 2015 12:33 AM   |  A+A-

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The King of Swaziland H.M. Mswati III with the Minister of State for Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma in New Delhi on October 26. | PTI

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Aiming to ramp up engagement, India and African countries today deliberated on possible deliverables at a summit between the two sides which is aimed at lifting the overall ties to a new high with particular focus on trade, security and development cooperation.

On the first day of the four-day-long India-Africa Summit, top officials of India and a number of African countries discussed about a specific framework to boost ties besides deliberating on a "political document". "They are negotiating two documents. One is going to be a political document which will talk of the political partnership between India and Africa. It will touch upon global and regional issues.

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"Other one is going to be framework document of cooperation which will talk about the development partnership of Africa, line of credit by India to African nations," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters. He said terrorism could find place in the discussions in the summit.

Tomorrow, the summit will see interaction at the level of foreign ministers while the third leg will see meeting of the heads of the states on October 29. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will also hold bilateral talks with her counterparts from Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cape Verde, Ghana among others tomorrow.

In her talks, Swaraj will try to analyse needs of Africa and how India can contribute in their development agenda. Representatives of 54 African nations including heads of state and government of around 40 countries and powerful African Union are expected to participate in the summit. India's current trade with Africa is around USD 75 billion and it has granted a whopping USD 7.4 billion for various developmental and capacity building projects in the past four years. India has implemented a total of 137 projects in 41 African countries during the period.

Expanding trade ties will be a major focus area at the summit which will see participation of over 400 business delegates from Africa besides all major Indian chambers of commerce. A large number of African countries including Tanzania, Sudan, Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda have huge oil and gas reserves and India wants to invest in the sector to fuel its economic growth. Having a solid partnership in exploiting the blue economy will be another major focus area. There will be deliberations on expanding ties in areas of energy, health care, infrastructure, technology and innovation.

When asked about the number of heads of state and government participating in the summit, chief coordinator of the event Syed Akbaruddin said India was confident that all the institutions and countries invited will be present at the summit when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses it on October 29. "This summit will be a gathering of every nation in Africa... It will be unprecedented in the annals of any summit between Africa and any other country," he said.

Akbaruddin said heads of state and government of Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and many others have accepted India's invitation. "King of Morocco and the King of Swaziland have already arrived. So there will be representation across boundaries in different sectors," he added.

To expand trade, the summit is likely to delve on India's association with various African blocs including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) as these forums play a crucial role in trade and investments. Almost all African nations have huge tracts of fertile land and there is huge scope for exploiting potential in the agricultural sector in the continent.

Food security is a major concern for African nations and India feels it can provide the expertise to help Africa boost its agricultural production. Education and skill development will be another priority area.  The summit is the first such mega event in India with participation of large number of foreign leaders after the NAM meet in 1983.



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