New Delhi: Prime minister Narendra Modi will unveil the government’s Africa-centric policy push on Thursday, aimed at strengthening trade and investment relations. It would also forge a common agenda to pursue reforms aggressively in global multilateral bodies, including United Nations, World Bank, IMF as well as focus on climate change.
The prime minister will make India’s Africa focus policy statement on Thursday at the third Indo-Africa summit, the largest meeting of prime ministers and presidents in India during the recent past. Apart from raising the pitch for India’s larger role in global development and economic affairs, the prime minister may target doubling the country’s investments to $64 billion in the next five years in the world’s largest continent with special focus on the energy sector.
India’s bilateral trade with the African continent is pegged at $ 75 billion, making it the third largest trading partner for Africa after European Union and China.
He is expected to push for doubling the India–Africa trade engagement to $144 billion from the prevailing $72 billion during the next five years. Both nations will work on a common agenda for engagement through ‘an outcome document’ to be issued later on Thursday. This also assumes significance in the backdrop of the scheduled China–Africa summit in December this year. China’s trade engagement with Africa is pegged at $200 billion.
In a measure to beef up the Indo-African engagement, the prime minister met with 20 presidents and prime ministers at bilateral meetings, flagging issues for the two sides. Modi also hosted a state dinner for visiting heads of the states, which was ignored by leaders from the Congress party.
As a parallel move, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has also engaged with her counterparts from 20 other African countries on Wednesday as both sides prepared for the summit on Thursday.
Specific proposals like setting up a joint urea production plant in Congo, a railway network in Senegal to uranium supply by Namibia, a railway network in Ghana, a science-park and sugar processing unit in Swaziland, cyber city in Guinea, enhanced energy pacts with Nigeria, drug-processing unit in Uganda and diamonds processing in Botswana, also came up for discussions.
A PMO statement said that reforms in the United Nations security council (UNSC), institutions of global governance and terrorism figured prominently during the 19 bilateral meetings the prime minister held with African leaders. The prime minister’s meetings with African Union chairman and Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, the grand old man of Africa and Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, were described as significant.
The PM discussed enhanced trade ties in maritime security, agriculture, information technology, cyber security and skills development with Ghana president John Dramani Mahama. With the Swaziland king Mswati-III, he discussed the possibility of expanding renewable energy engagement, infrastructure and skills development. Benin president Boni Yoyi and prime minister Modi, as per a PMO statement, discussed cooperation in power generation, mechanisation of agriculture and transport.
India flagged oil exploration and enhanced engagement in hydrocarbon economy, apart from jointly fighting terrorism with Nigeria, in the meeting he had with president Muhammadu Buhari.
The PM may meet presidents and prime ministers of eight other African countries, including Namibia, Mali, Ethiopia, Somalia, Egypt, Mauritania, Angola and Tanzania on Thursday.
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