India-Africa Forum: Modi sees a new high in India-Africa relations

24 Oct 2015


The third India-Africa Forum Summit to be held in New Delhi from 29 October will see the participation of all 54 African countries which could be the biggest event of its sort and partnership and scale.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with trade ministers from Africa at an informal session, in New Delhi on 23 October 2015  

"This, I think, is going to take relations between India and Africa to new heights," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, while welcoming delegates to the preliminary summit session.

The prime minister said he felt the India-Africa Forum Summit is very important as this is the first summit where all the 54 countries of Africa have been invited and all the 54 countries are participating.

''I think it is this partnership and this equality that is being given to all the countries,'' he added.

The maximum representation of African countries in the summit so far has been far lower. 40 countries will be represented at the heads of state and heads of government, while the rest will be represented by senior ministers.

This time, the India-Africa Forum Summit would also see a conference of trade ministers so as to give a big push to the economic relations between India and Africa over the coming years, Modi stated.

The India-Africa Forum Summits had two summits earlier, in 2008 and 2011, and the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit will take place this month-end.

There will be meetings at various levels, Modi said, adding that the partnership with all African countries is going to bring a new freshness in every corner of Africa.

''This new freshness is not just for Africa but also for India that this summit is going to bring new freshness in our relations.''

India, meanwhile, has sought Africa's support for its stance at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), attracting global attention.

Modi said, ''The relations between India and the countries of Africa, these relations and these bonds that we have, are not just political and economic but we also have a very rich cultural tradition. It is said that millions of years ago in fact the two parts of the earth were one piece and it was only much later that they became two separate pieces of land, one was Asia and the other was Africa; and we have an Ocean which divides us. The west coast of India and the east coast of Africa in fact are linked by the sea''.

He reminded the delegates that it was the Gujaratis that started trade and commerce with Africa and maritime relations earlier on. ''Even today there are 2,70,000 Indians who live in Africa and many of them are Gujaratis, Modi pointed out.

There are many similarities between India and Africa and together India and Africa represent one third of the world's population, the prime minister pointed out.

He said, ''The population of India equals in fact the population of the entire African continent. Africa in fact represents the youngest region in the world and India too is the youngest country. Perhaps when we look at the world today these are the only two places where 65 per cent of the population is below 35 years of age and I feel that this is a matter of great fortune for both Africa and for India.

"The bilateral trade between India and Africa has been growing very rapidly and in the past few years it has grown by eight to nine times. I feel that after this summit it is going to see another major jump. India also is a major investor in Africa today and this is especially so in the oil sector and this is giving a new dynamism to the African economy.

Following the two previous India-Africa Forum Summits, India has given around $7.4 billion of concessional credit, which has been used to enhance the fields of infrastructure, agriculture, industry, energy and water. In more than 40 countries today there are more than 100 projects, being implemented through Indian aid.

India has also invested $1.2 billion in more than 100 institutes and this is contributing in a major way to human resource development. ''For me I think the point which makes me the most happy is that there is this partnership between India and Africa that is human resource development, the capacity building. And in the last few years we have had the good fortune of imparting education and training to around 25,000 African students and I think this is a matter of good fortune for India.''

He noted that many of the leaders in Africa who are now in power and in top position have had their education and training in India.

Modi also highlighted areas of cooperation like renewable energy. ''I think this is going to become a very strong community of nations and in the times to come the problem of climate change that the world is trying to counter and fight, we are going to be playing a very major role in mitigation and lessening the effects of climate change.''

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