STORY: India-Africa summit kicks off, two agreements discussed

New Delhi, Oct 26 (IANS) The third India-Africa Forum Summit kicked off here on Monday with senior officials of the host nation and 54 countries from the continent negotiating two agreements.

“The summit formally started with the meeting of the senior officials of India and Africa,” Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the media here.

“Two agreements are being negotiated. One is political, which will be about political partnership between India and Africa and it will also touch upon global and regional issues.

“The other is a framework document of cooperation. That will recall the developmental partnership between India and Africa, lines of credit, what are African needs, where we can contribute and how both sides can work together to improving the lives of both our peoples,” he said.

Swarup said that on Tuesday the foreign ministers of India and the African countries will meet.

“Tomorrow (Tuesday) it will begin with a ministerial meeting and group photograph,” he said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will then hold bilateral meetings with several of her African counterparts.

“Among the foreign she will be meeting will be those of Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Kenya, Malawi, DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), Cameroon, Cape Verde and Ghana,” the spokesperson said.

On Thursday, the summit meeting attended by the heads of government will be held.

According to Indian officials, this will, perhaps, be the first time that all the 54 African countries are coming together outside the continent for such a meeting, with 40 of them expected to be represented by their heads of state or government.

The two previous India-Africa summits were held in 2008 and 2011, in New Delhi and Addis Ababa but with only representative participation from African countries. The actual summit this time among the leaders is scheduled on October 29.

The itinerary also includes a grand banquet to be hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on the evening of October 29.

Ahead of the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India’s areas of focus in Africa will continue to be human resource development, institution building, infrastructure, clean energy, agriculture, health, education and skill development.

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, while its investment in Africa range between $30-35 billion.

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