Countdown begins for India-Africa summit (Lead)

May 10th, 2011 - 8:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Addis Ababa, May 10 (IANS) Ahead of the second summit between India and the African continent, a two-day seminar begins in the Ethiopian capital Wednesday on how the India-Africa partnership can be mutually beneficial to their growth and development.

The second India Africa Forum Summit will be attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and 15 representative African nations at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa on May 24-25. The first summit between the two rising powers was held in New Delhi in 2008.

The summit will be preceded a meeting of foreign ministers and trade seminars and a India-Africa Media Symposium.

The seminar has been organised by the Indian Council For World Affairs (ICWA) with support from its counterpart here, the Ethiopian International Institute for Peace and Development, under the Track-II diplomacy initiative of India’s external affairs ministry.

“This the first of the seminars we are hosting, ahead of the India-Africa Summit which our prime minister is inaugurating. The outcomes and suggestions will be taken up at the larger level,” said ICWA director general Sudhir T. Devare.

“The focus remains how India-Africa partnership can be mutually beneficial for the overall development and growth,” Devare, who is also among the key speakers at the seminar, told IANS.

The organisers said the seminar was also in the nature of an academic conference with expert speakers drawn from areas such as strategic affairs, banking, gender issues, finance, policy, education, foreign relations and history.

Key speakers include the African Union Deputy Chairman Erastus J.O. Mawencha, Ethiopian Education Minister Demeke Mekonnen and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Berhane Gerbe, and National Maritime Foundation Director C. Uday Bhaskar.

The seminar, ICWA said in a concept note, will focus on five key areas: eEconomic development, capacity building in terms of human resources, gender mainstreaming, diaspora resource and non-traditional security.

In terms of the two-million strong Indian diaspora dispersed across the 53 African nations, the note said India has not been able to convert it into a resource and the same holds true for African nations. The speakers will seek to find answers to this issue.

The seminar comes at a time when India’s bilateral trade with Africa crossed the $50-billion mark last year, and Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Shaerma has set a target of $70 billion by 2012.

In economic partnership, one of the main topics of discussion will be how the Indian private and public sector companies can contribute to the infrastructure needs of Africa both with technology and funds.

(Arvind Padmanabhan can be contacted at arvind.p@ians.in)

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