Pranab Mukherjee completes three-nation visit to Africa

New Delhi : Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has successfully completed his three-nation visit to Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia. These visits have reiterated India’s commitment to take its engagement with Africa seriously.

It was the maiden visit of any Indian President to the states of Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire while the visit to Namibia was the second by an Indian President after a gap of 21 years.

“The warmth with which I was received in all these three countries is testament to the unparalleled and historic bonds of friendship that exist between India and Africa”, said President Mukherjee.

10 billion USD additional concessional lines of credit, enhanced ITEC and ICCR scholarships and 600 million USD grant assistance announced by India were some of the highlighted points of the visit.

The participating countries held talks for enhanced cooperation in the bilateral, regional and international context.

President Mukherjee also raised the need for reforms of the United Nations, particularly the UN Security Council. The host countries agreed that the present structure does not reflect current realities.

The leaders of all three countries expressed the view that India, with one-sixth of world’s population as well as the African continent must be represented in the UN Security Council.

In Ghana, the Indian President met his counterpart John Dramani Mahama, to witness the conclusion of an agreement and two MOUs which include exemption from visa requirement for holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports, establishment of a Joint Commission and facilitating interaction between the Foreign Service Institutes of the two countries.

It was also agreed upon by both countries to increase the bilateral trade to at least 5 billion USD by 2020.

The Indian President also paid floral tributes at the mausoleum of Ghana’s founding President and father of the nation, Kwame Nkrumah, who along with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and others, founded the Non-Aligned Movement.

He also unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in the University of Ghana and addressed a Joint Business Forum as well as the students and faculty of the University of Ghana, to highlight ‘Brand India’.

Leaders of Ghana expressed interest in expanding cooperation across the board, including in new areas like civil nuclear energy, renewable energy, SME sector, railways and sustainable agriculture.

President Mukherjee announced an increase in ITEC slots from 250 to 300 and ICCR scholarships from 16 to 40 and further announced an assistance of 1 million USD for the India-Ghana Kofi Annan Centre for IT excellence.

The Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara conferred the highest national honour of the Grande Croix Commandeur on the Indian President. Mukherjee then addressed a Joint Business Forum where agreements were signed between the CII and CEPICI as well as between Tata Motors and SUTRA for supply of 500 buses.

A Headquarters agreement for opening of a regional office of EXIM Bank of India in Abidjan was signed during the visit.

President Mukherjee also extended an invitation to President Ouattara to pay a State visit to India, which he accepted.

In Namibia the Indian President called for increased parliamentary exchanges between the two countries.

He also announced an increase of ITEC slots from 125 to 200, a grant of 20,000 USD for the Indira Gandhi Maternity Clinic, assistance of 1000 tonnes of rice for mitigating the drought situation as well as 100 tonnes of essential medicines.

Two MOUs were signed between the Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM) and Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) and on the establishment of a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology in Namibia.

On the last day of the visit the Indian President also laid a wreath at Heroes’ Acre, a memorial to Namibian freedom fighters.

He also addressed the Namibia University of Science & Technology where he highlighted India’s achievements in the field of education, economy, agriculture and science & technology. (ANI)