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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with India Africa Forum Summit delegations’ Heads, wearing traditional Indian dresses, at a dinner in New Delhi | Coastweek

NEW DELHI India -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi with India Africa Forum Summit delegations’ Heads, wearing traditional Indian dresses, before an official dinner hosted in their honour in New Delhi.  SOURCE: PRESS TRUST OF INDIA

 

India host biggest meeting of African heads of State outside Africa

NEW DELHI India -- Almost all heads of African countries are in New Delhi, India, today and tomorrow. They are taking part in the India-Africa Forum Summit, the biggest meeting of heads of state in India so far, writes Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.

In 1983, the Non-Aligned Summit and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting had up to 42 heads of state.
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This time the total, over 50, is much higher from 54 African countries.

Is this a bigger number than African Union summits in Addis Ababa, meeting for the first time outside Africa?

The Modi government mounted this initiate with special invitations to all African heads of state, sometimes delivered by India’s Foreign Minister personally.

After two such summits in 2008 and 2011 in Addis Ababa and New Delhi, this is the biggest conclave so far.

Around 15 of them landed in their private jets.

All other are ferried in brand new Mercedes Benz and Toyota Hybrids and are lodged in ten five-star hotels in the capital.

Since there was no stage big enough to seat all of them, an indoor stadium was refurbished to seat them.

 

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta | Coastweek

NEW DELHI India -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the start of the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi.

 

 

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting no less than 40 heads of state for bilateral talks.

It climaxes with President Pranab Mukherjee hosting a grand banquet on 29 October.

What are they discussing?

Plenty. Basically, mutual cooperation.

But commerce is high on the agenda.

India’s trade with Africa has ballooned 20 times in the last 15 years and currently stands at $70 billion. India’s investments in Africa range between $30-35 billion.

India has extended concessional credit to Africa of $7.4 billion, and at least half is already disbursed for about 137 projects in 41 countries today.

What’s in for Africa?

Investment flows from India in agriculture, infrastructure, telecoms and mining infrastructure and equally important private investment in industrial units.

Africa wants to benefit from low-cost services, especially in Information Technology, from India.

Africa also needs higher education and specialized training from Indian institutes or Indian experts in Africa.

Africa can further boost its exports of crude oil and mineral fuels, pearls and precious stones, unwrought gold or semi-manufactured gold, iron and steel, inorganic chemicals, edible fruits and nuts, fertilizers, ores and slag, salt and sulphur, aluminum and soda ash, among other commodities.

At political level, Africa has shown interest in countering terrorism, be it Boko Haram in West Africa or 'al Shabab' in east Africa.

Maritime security in the Indian Ocean against piracy off Somali coast is another priority.

What’s in for India?

Indian exports have an expanding market in Africa with a big scope for further growth.

India exports mineral fuels, vehicles, pharmaceuticals, cereals, electrical and electronic equipment, nuclear reactors, iron and steel, plastic goods and books, among other goods.

Political mileage esp. for UN Security Council seat;

The African Union (AU) has not yet worked out its strategy as nations are all tussling to get in.

India believes that India and Africa are not at odds on UN membership and can work together.

But unless AU finalises its stand it is hard to predict what can happen.

On multi-lateral for a like WTO, India hopes for greater support.

Underlying the summit’s agenda is to counter China’s growing and enormous investments and influence in Africa.

China has overtaken the west in its stake in Africa and India needs to counter this.

Another bonus will be the boost to the Indian Diaspora in Africa.

From struggle against colonialism to fighting racism, Africa and India have been together for almost a century.

Indian traders have been moving to Africa before Biblical times while modern migration started around1 70 years ago when the British needed labour for their farms.

This summit will boost the morale of about two million seven hundred thousand Indians settled in Africa, of which 1.2 m are in South Africa and 880,000 in Mauritius.

After taking over as the Prime Minister Modi visited two African countries so far - Mauritius and Seychelles, out of the 100 odd he has travelled to.
.

But he has had strong links with Africa and many African leaders attended his Gujarat Investment Summits and with Gujaratis who form the majority of migrants to East Africa.

Then there is Mahatma Gandhi with his links to South Africa. A mobile museum with Gandhi memorabilia set off on his birthday from his birthplace Porbandar and will reach Delhi during the summit.

For India now, it’s time for Africa!

 
 

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