‘India will remain Africa’s trusted partner’

Prajakta Joshi
Sunday, 20 January 2019

“India has supported Africa through its fight against colonialism, against apartheid. Our partnership is based on equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. Prime Minister has declared Africa as a top priority in our foreign and economic policy.” Swaraj said.

GANDHINAGAR: “India will remain a trusted partner and will work closely with Africa for the economic and social empowerment of its people,” said Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Saturday.

She was speaking at the Africa Day celebration on the second day of Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2019, in Gandhinagar. With a whole day being dedicated to an entire continent, the second day had sessions and partnership discussions between India and African countries. At the inauguration of Africa Day, along with the Minister, representatives of several African countries were present.

Swaraj asserted that India-Africa relations are not just based on business and trade, but are multi-faceted, on egalitarian lines.

“India has supported Africa through its fight against colonialism, against apartheid. Our partnership is based on equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. Prime Minister has declared Africa as a top priority in our foreign and economic policy. We will also be also seeing to it that our partnership will be guided by African priorities, on terms that will liberate African potential,” Swaraj said.

Highlighting the several initiatives that India has taken with respect to India-Africa partnership, she added, “Signing of the historic African Continental Free Trade Agreement in March last year to bring about economic integration of Africa has been a very important step. India-Africa bilateral trade stood at USD 62.66 billion for 2017-18 which reflects an increase of nearly 22 per cent over the previous year. India is ranked as the third largest export destination in Africa.”

India is also the fifth largest investor in Africa, with cumulative investments of US$ 54 billion in range of sectors like telecommunication, hydrocarbon, agriculture, education, etc.

Swaraj also said that as many of the African countries like India are victims of terrorism, preserving peace and security, countering terrorism and extremism is an important element of our engagement.

While the 150th birth anniversary year of Mahatma Gandhi is being celebrated, underlining the connection between Gujarat and Africa, Swaraj stated that while Gujarat gave us Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, it was Africa that gave us the Mahatma.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Rakiya Eddarhem, Secretary of State to the Ministry of Industry of Morocco, said that with a young population and abundance of resources, the African countries are destined to be great, and they need to believe that. All that is needed is translating the vision into action.

Henry Oryem Okello, State Minister for Foreign Affairs (International Affairs), Republic of Uganda, humorously stated that Indians are like Coca Cola, they can be seen everywhere, whether it’s Africa or the USA. We are very inspired by India, he said.

RETROSPECTING TIES
- Currently, 189 projects in 42 African countries for nearly USD 11.4 billion are being implemented under Indian LoCs. 
- The Union Cabinet of India has taken the decision to open 18 new Embassies and High Commissions in Africa in the next few years, the first one of which has already been opened in Rwanda.
- India has offered construction of Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centres in Africa as grant assistance.
- An Agreement was signed in September 2018 to establish e-Vidhya Bharati Aarogya Bharati (e-VBAB) Network Project between India and Africa, which aims to provide tele-education and tele-medicine.

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