Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flies to Addis Ababa next week to
participate in the second India-Africa Forum summit that will bind
two of the fastest-growing regions in the world in a closer
partnership as also to discuss issues ranging from trade to
terrorism and UN reforms.
Manmohan Singh will also go to Tanzania, a vibrant East African
country that is home to around 40,000 people of Indian origin,
after the summit with leaders of 15 African countries and top
officials of the African Union Commission.
Manmohan Singh, who leaves for Ethiopia May 23, will co-chair the
India-Africa Forum summit with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo,
President of Equatorial Guinea and chairman of the African Union.
This will be the first ever visit by an Indian prime minister to
Ethiopia though then president S. Radhakrishnan in 1965 and then
president V.V.Giri in 1972 visited Ethiopia.
Leaders of around 15 African countries, which are decided by the
African Union (AU), will participate in the summit.
The African countries that have been asked by the AU to
participate in the summit are: Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Egypt,
Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Namibia,
Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Swaziland. Jean
Ping, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, will also
take part in the summit.
Ahead of the summit, India ruled out any competition with other
emerging powers in Africa. "India is not engaged in any
competition with others in Africa. We have a historical
relationship with Africa. Africa has a special place in our
hearts," Vivek Katju, Secretary (West) in India's external affairs
ministry, told reporters, when asked whether India was playing a
catch-up with China in Africa.
India's bilateral trade with Africa is around $45 billion. China's
bilateral trade with Africa, on the other hand, has already
surpassed $110 billion.
"The leaders will also focus on regional and international issues
of common concern, including threats from terrorism and piracy,"
Katju told reporters. "It is expected that the leaders will
discuss significant aspects of the India-Africa partnership with
the objective of enhancing its content and widening its ambit for
mutual benefit," he said.
India also backed Africa for a permanent seat in the UN Security
Council. "India and all the countries of the African Union are on
one mind on the issue of the UN reforms. The situation in the
world demands reforms of international institutions," Katju said.
"There has to be an expansion of the UN Security Council in both
permanent and non-permanent categories. Africa must find a
permanent place in an expanded UN Security Council," Katju said.
Almost all African countries have backed India for a permanent
seat, he said.
A meeting of senior officials and a meeting of foreign ministers
will set the agenda for the May 24-25 summit. Minister of Commerce
and Industry Anand Sharma will represent India at a special
meeting of trade ministers that will be held on May 21.
The summit is expected to culminate in the Addis Ababa Declaration
and the Africa-India Framework for Enhanced Cooperation which will
map out the trajectory of the India-Africa engagement for the next
few years. India hosted the first forum summit in April 2008.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Principal Secretary to the
Prime Minister T.K.A. Nair and National Security Adviser
Shivshankar Menon will be among those accompanying the prime
minister on the two-nation Africa tour.
A host of events, including a trade exhibition entitled India
Show, a media partnership symposium, a multi-media show tracing
the history of the partnership, and a film festival will be held
on the sidelines of the summit to imbue the burgeoning
India-African partnership with vibrancy and popular appeal.
Two other showcase events are set to generate much interest, which
include Handcrafting Hope, a programme that brings together Indian
and African craftspeople; and Rhythm of Life, a series of joint
cultural performances by Indian and African artistes who will
showcase fusion of Indian and African culture.
Manmohan Singh will also release a commemorative stamp, a book
entitled "Two Billion Dreams: Celebrating India-Africa Friendship"
and a special Summit edition of the journal Africa Quarterly,
published by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.