India, Africa to launch action plan at April summit

March 11th, 2008 - 12:30 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) India and Africa will launch an action plan and adopt a declaration to take their “time-tested and historical ties” to new heights at the end of the country’s first summit with 14 African countries in April. “The summit will help in crystallizing this partnership and open new pathways of cooperation between the two sides,” Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said here while formally announcing the India-Africa Forum summit which will be held here April 8-9.

“We have sent a draft action plan to the countries participating in the summit. We are waiting for their inputs. A declaration will be adopted at the summit,” Sharma said at a function where he launched a website by the external affairs ministry devoted to the forthcoming summit.

“The summit will help the pace and spirit of India-Africa ties to gather momentum,” he stressed while alluding to “historic and time-tested” ties between India and various countries of the African continent.

Underlining India’s thrust on sharing technology and expertise with Africa and helping the continent in areas of education and human resource development, he also underlined the unique nature of India-Africa engagement which is different from that of others - a veiled reference to increasing Chinese economic stakes in Africa.

A gala multicultural concert and a multimedia show will kick off the India-Africa summit here April 7 - an ambitious exercise that will provide a more contemporary complexion to time-tested relationship between the two sides.

The multicultural song-and-dance extravaganza, choreographed on the lines of a similar show presented at the SAARC summit in New Delhi last year, is the brainchild of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR).

The ICCR is planning to invite a troupe of dancers and musicians from each of the 17 countries who will be participating in the summit, an official source told IANS.

The multimedia show that is a tribute to the innate vitality and growth of India-Africa ties will be presented April 8 in the presence of African heads of states and government.

The summit has been structured as a three-tier interaction between senior officials (April 4), foreign ministers (April 7) and 17 heads of states/government of the two sides (April 8-9) participating in this exercise.

The summit will be also attended by heads of sub-regional groupings like the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS).

Algeria, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia are among the countries that will be attending the summit.

The summit is a precursor to more broad-based summits in the future.

Ahead of the summit, India’s economic ties with Africa will get a further boost at a three-day conclave starting March 19 in which ministers and business people from India and over 20 African countries will participate.

The India-Africa Project Partnership conclave, organized jointly by the commerce and external affairs ministries, the EXIM bank and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), is aimed at accelerating trade and investment with an increased involvement of the private sector from both sides.

India’s bilateral trade with Africa is steadily growing and is estimated to be over $20 billion.

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