India wants ‘holistic’ engagement in African energy sector

June 23rd, 2008 - 10:12 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) India wants “holistic” engagement in Africa’s energy sector so that developmental needs of Africans are also met in this partnership, a senior Indian diplomat said here Monday. “It is with this objective in mind that we have consistently impressed upon Indian companies both in the private and public sectors to participate not simply in the production of oil and natural gas, but to invest in the development of infrastructure and downstream industries as also related industries such as fertilizers, generation of power etc.,” Nalin Surie, secretary (west) in the external affairs ministry, said.

He was speaking at the inauguration of a two-day international conference on Africa and Energy Security, jointly hosted by the think tanks Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses and the Oslo-based International Peace Research Institute.

“Africa’s contribution to the energy security of other countries must lead to sustainable development in Africa,” Surie said.

Noting that it was necessary to look at the issue from the perspective of African countries, the senior diplomat said India’s approach to the continent has been “based on the principles of equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit”.

“Our effort has always been to cooperate with the countries of Africa, within the framework of our capabilities and experiences and to help meet the requirements of Africa’s socio-economic development,” he said.

India has been in last couple of years looking at Africa as an important source for energy, as well as a market for Indian goods. It has also been eyeing lucrative contracts in a booming African economy.

Last year, India had organised a conclave of African oil ministers, while this year it hosted nearly a dozen African heads of states for a summit meeting in New Delhi.

Surie said there were efforts to look beyond hydrocarbons to cooperation in other forms of renewable energy, like solar energy, wind energy, bio-fuel and bio-diesel.

Noting the negative impact of high oil prices on developing countries, he said: “The impact on the smaller and more vulnerable developing countries, including those in Africa that do not have the benefit of hydrocarbon resources, is even more dramatic and could perhaps be devastating unless corrective action is taken in the near future.”

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