India, African regional blocs discuss training institutes, projects

November 8th, 2011 - 7:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) Building upon key commitments of its second summit with Africa, India Tuesday discussed the location of training institutes and developmental cooperation with chiefs of leading Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

The heads of RECs, known as building blocks of Africa, began their four-day visit here Monday.

They met Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur and discussed the entire gamut of India-Africa relationship and steps to take forward key decisions of the second Africa-India Forum Summit in Addis Ababa held in May.

Richard Sezibera, secretary general of the East African Community (EAC), Mahboub Maalim, executive secretary of the Inter-Governmental Agency for Development (IGAD), Sindiso Ngwenya, secretary general of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and General Louis Sylvain-Goma, secretary-general of Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) were among those who participated in the discussions.

Senior officials of RECs also held extensive discussions with Gurjit Singh, additional secretary, east and southern Africa in the external affairs ministry and Rajinder Bhagat, joint secretary of West African division.

The discussions revolved around bolstering India’s relations with each of the RECs and the nitty gritty of training institutes India plans to set up across Africa.

M. Ganapathi, secretary (West) in India’s external affairs ministry, hosted a lunch for the visiting African chiefs.

At the May 24-25 Addis Ababa summit, India had pledged $5.7 billion in lines of credits and grants for setting up over a host of developmental projects and over eighty training institutes across Africa with a view to enhancing capacity building in these countries. Out of these, the location of 42 institutes are to be decided by RECs with consensus.

“The idea behind the meeting with the RECs is to strengthen institutional integration with regional communities which are a vital part of our three-tier partnership with Afric”,” said Gurjit Singh.

“Africa values its partnership with India greatly and is benefiting from its technologies and expertis”,” said Sezibera, chief of EAC.

With agriculture being a key area of bilateral cooperation between India and Africa, the Indian Council for Agricultural Research presented their proposals before the visiting delegation on setting up soil water and tissue testing laboratories; regional farm science centres; agriculture seed production-cum-demonstration centres and special agriculture scholarships for Africa.

They also met officials of the The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) to discuss issues relating to climate change.

India and the African Union launched an action plan in 2010 that sought to develop Africa’s impulses towards regional integration and India’s institutional engagement with the RECs. Subsequently, India held the first-ever meeting with top officials of the RECs in New Delhi Nov 14-16 last year.

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