Stage set for historic India-Africa summit Tuesday

April 6th, 2008 - 1:26 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) Ten heads of state and government are among the leaders of 14 African countries who will be here this week for the first-ever India-Africa summit that seeks to counter China’s growing influence in the resource-rich continent. The two-day summit from Tuesday will be attended by some of the African heavyweights like South African President Thabo Mbeki, Uganda President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Burkina Faso Prime Minister Tertius Zongo, Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila Kabange, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ghana President John Agyekum Kufuor, Kenyan Prime Minister Mwai Kibaki and Senegal President Maitre Abdoulaye Wade.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Nigerian President Umar Y’adua will not be coming for the summit. Egypt will be represented by Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Abou El Naga and Libya by Ali Abdul Salam Altreki while Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan will represent Nigeria.

Zambia will be represented by Vice-President Ruypiah Banda. African Union Commission chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare will represent the AU at the summit.

The summit will focus on forging a more contemporary partnership in key areas like trade and investment, energy, and cooperation on global issues like the UN reforms, terrorism and climate change in the light of political and economic changes that have transformed India and African countries over the last two decades ago.

This partnership will not be about grand-sounding slogans and buzzwords, but about people-to-people-centred development and cooperation between India and African countries in areas like education, technology and human resource, a senior official told IANS ahead of the summit.

It will be a partnership, based on a shared struggle against apartheid and colonialism in the past, between a rising India and a resurgent Africa, and open new pathways of cooperation between them, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said, setting the tone for the summit.

With Africa emerging as a new global oil hub and the economies of African counties growing on the back of vigorous reforms and robust commodity prices, the intensification of economic and energy ties between the two sides will be high on the agenda.

And so will be connectivity and collaboration in areas like infrastructure development, education, technology and IT that are essential to realize the potential of partnership.

In fact, energy security is going to be a key thrust of India’s approach to Africa, especially in view of China’s expanding presence in key oil-producing countries in that continent. Bilateral trade between India and Africa is estimated to be over $25 billion, which is about half of that between China and Africa.

The action plan is likely to include closer partnership in all these areas and an intensification of economic and strategic ties, with India focusing on technology transfers and human resource development aimed at empowering African countries.

African countries are looking at India as an emerging Asian power and as a role model of democracy. African countries are also seeing India as a knowledge power with its globally recognized prowess in IT, which is epitomized by the India-assisted pan-Africa e-network that seeks to digitally connect 53 AU countries.

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