India-Africa strategic dialogue begins Thursday

November 23rd, 2011 - 7:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 23 (IANS) Months after the second Africa-India forum summit, a host of experts, academics and retired diplomats will gather here Thursday for a two-day conference that seeks to expand the strategic dialogue between two of the fast growing regions of the world and firm up a road-map for accelerating this crucial engagement.

The conference, organised by defence ministry-funded think tank Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, will kick off Thursday with an inaugural address by M. Ganapathi, secretary (West) and the senior-most official in charge of Africa in India’s external affairs ministry.

Some of the prominent experts from Africa who are participating in the conference are Abednego Edho Ekoko of Delta State University, Nigeria; Festus K. Aubyn, senior research fellow at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Center, Ghana; Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, national director, South African Institute of International Affairs and Paul Musili Wambua of the University of Nairobi School of Law.

The conference will conclude with a panel discussion on “India-Africa Strategic Partnership: The Way Forward”, which will be chaired by Vivek Katju, former secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry.

The dialogue seeks to widen the India-Africa engagement on a host of global issues, including the UN reforms, climate change, food security and the rise of emerging powers in the continent.

“The continent has seen a surge in economic growth and democratic governance. This period of transition offers a number of possibilities wherein India and Africa can take a united stand on a number of important global issues for a peaceful world,” the concept note for the conference said.

The conference will also discuss security issues related to piracy, terrorism and other criminal activities, non-traditional security issues and UN peacekeeping in Africa.

Against the backdrop of increased global interest in Africa, India held its second summit with the emerging continent in Addis Ababa May 24-25 at which the country unveiled a $5.7 billion line of credit for a slew of developmental projects and setting up of over 80 training institutes across Africa.

The summit highlighted New Delhi’s emphasis on human resource development and capacity building as key features of India’s engagement with Africa. In its latest report, the International Monetary Fund predicted over 6.2 per cent annual growth for economies of sub-Saharan Africa.

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