Summit an effort to bring India closer to Africa: MEA

New Delhi, Oct.26 : Ministry of External Affairs Additional Secretary and Chief Coordinator of India-Africa Forum Summit Syed Akbaruddin on Monday said that the event should be seen as a national effort to bring African countries closer to India.

“We will have representatives of all countries and the African Union when we have the main summit day on October 29. Efforts like these obviously take a long time. This is a national effort and not a departmental effort. It is not a sectional effort, but it is an effort that India is rolling out and is putting its best foot forward to engage with all of Africa,” Akbaruddin told ANI here.

The third India-Africa Forum Summit began on Monday with a meeting among the senior officials of the host nation and 54 countries from the African continent. It will last till October 29.

It is being projected as a landmark event, as over 50 African heads of government and state will be attending and meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for possible one-to-one exchanges.

This massive gathering of leaders from a rising continent on Indian soil, is a possible indicative of India’s emergence as a leading developing nation, and is of greater appeal for Africa due to nits rising economic growth over the past year and the international standing earned by Prime Minister Modi during his over 20 trips abroad.

There is also a view that China is no longer the economic powerhouse it once used to be in Asia, and therefore, India appears to be more attractive to the Africans who are trying to cope with the sharp slowdown in mineral exports to China.

There also doubts about China maintaining its investment potential in Africa.

India-Africa trade is presently pegged at over USD 70 billion, and there is talk of it matching or even surpassing China-Africa trade, which is worth approximately USD 200 billion.

The emphasis of this third summit is on the ‘blue economy’ as also a reminder that many African countries are part of the Western Indian Ocean littoral.

The two previous India-Africa summits were held in 2008 and 2011, in New Delhi and Addis Ababa. The actual summit this time among the leaders is scheduled on October 29.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday said it is for the first time that an event of such a big scale is being held in India and assumes significance considering the historic linkages between the two sides.

“From Oct 26 to 29, India Africa Forum Summit is being held here. On Indian soil, it is for the first that an event of such a big scale is being held. Leaders of 54 African countries and Unions have been invited. Outside Africa, this is the biggest convention,” Prime Minister Modi had said in his radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’.(ANI)