India, Africa vow to cement relations as summit opens
Bujumbura, May 24, 2011_India and Africa vowed to further cement their relations as India pledges a 5 billion U.S. dollars credit line and new institutions to Africa at the 2nd Africa-India Forum Summit which opened on Tuesday.
Heads of the states and governments from India and African countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Swaziland, Mauritania, Malawi and Burundi were present at the opening ceremony of the summit in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia.
Equatorial Guinea's President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who is also the African Union (AU) chairperson, declared the summit open, lauding India's help to Africa in poverty alleviation, realization of the Millennium Development Goals and also creation of a new and just international political economical order.
Jean Ping, AU Commission chairperson, said at the opening ceremony that the Africa-India summit, a major milestone in the development of the Africa-India partnership, has been contributing to the constructed relationship between the two sides.
He commended India's help to Africa in sectors including e- education, e-medication, duty-free access for the Least Developed Countries, professional skill training program and low-cost housing project.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the opening ceremony of the summit that India will continue to support efforts at infrastructure development, regional integration, capacity building and human resource development in Africa.
"Africa possesses all the prerequisites to become a major growth pole of the world in the 21st century," Singh said. "We will work with Africa to enable it to realize this potential."
He announced that India will provide 5 billion dollars for the next three years to Africa under lines of credit and also help the continent to build a spate of new institutions to help achieve its development goals.
Singh said India will offer a total of 700 million dollars to help establish new institutions, including a food processing cluster, an integrated textile cluster and a center for medium range weather forecasting which will harness satellite technology for the agriculture and fisheries sectors as well as contribute towards disaster preparedness and management of natural resources.
He also announced at the summit that India will support the development of the new Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway line to the tune of 300 million dollars.
India's latest pledge came as an extension of its institutionalized help to Africa starting with the first India- Africa Summit in 2008 in New Delhi, where it announced a substantial increase in the existing lines of credit to Africa to 5.4 billion dollars over the next five years, and a separate grant of 500 million dollars for projects in the areas of capacity building and human resource development.
New Delhi latest efforts to strengthen ties with Africa also came amid the booming economic and trade flow between the two neighbors across the Indian Ocean.
Statistics show that the bilateral trade between India and Africa recorded 5.5 billion dollars in 2001. However, the number doubled between 2005 and 2006 and reached 45 billion dollars in 2010.
Over the past seven years, the total trade volume between India and Africa has grown as many as seven times. They have set a target to take the two-way commerce to 70 billion dollars by 2015 on the back of increasing economic engagement between the two sides.
Leaders and delegations will discuss seven agenda items during the summit, including exchange of views on the ongoing multilateral trade negotiations in the Doha Round, on the global economic situation and each country's macroeconomic policies, as well as strengthening of trade and investment relations between India and Africa.
The summit, an important platform for India and Africa to cooperate and coordinate in a spate of political and economic issues, is held every three year.