India-Africa symposium emphasises media
An India-Africa Media Partnership Symposium was
held Saturday in Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa, in line with
the 2nd Africa-India Forum Summit to be held May 24, Xinhua
reported. The Symposium brought together journalists »
Ababa: In a subtle allusion to China's much talked
about thrust into Africa, Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister
Hailemariam Desalegn has vigorously endorsed India's development
model ahead of the second India-Africa Forum summit and called for
scaling bilateral ties with New Delhi to new heights.
"Africa is paying special attention
to India because India has deep-rooted experience which can be
transferred to Africa," Desalegn, who is also Ethiopia's foreign
minister, told IANS in the Ethiopian capital.
"Usually people believe that development comes from developed
nations, but Africans are keen to focus on India's development, a
developing country, and are keen to follow in its footsteps for
rapid growth," he said.
"It is a mutual development agenda. We respect each other. India
has no conditionality. India respects the African way of
development and Africans respect the Indian way of development,"
said Desalegn, who is also Ethiopia's pointsperson for the second
India-Africa Forum summit that will be held in Addis Ababa May
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is attending the summit.
"Therefore, the relationship between the two is very important and
it is high time that we should deepen the relationship with
India," he stressed.
Desalegn's remarks underlining the special relationship between
India and Africa have set the tone for the summit that is being
held against the backdrop of Beijing's perceived surge in Africa,
a cause of anxiety among some sections in India and among Western
At the summit, Manmohan Singh is expected to announce fresh
pledges of development assistance, lines of credit and a raft of
initiatives in the field of capacity building and human resource
Manmohan Singh leaves May 23 on a six-day tour to Ethiopia and
Tanzania. He will co-chair the Summit with Teodoro Obiang Nguema
Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea and chairman of the
African Union. Leaders of 15 African countries, which are decided
by the African Union (AU), will participate in the summit.
India has made a rapid economic foray into Africa in recent years,
but it still lags far behind with its bilateral trade of around
$45 billion, less than half of that of China's trade with Africa,
which is estimated to be close to $108 billion.
Desalegn, however, avoided any overt comparison between Africa's
relations with India and China and speculation about competition
and rivalry between the Asian powers in the African continent.
"Competition is beneficial for Africa," is all he would say.
Desalegn, however, was unabashed in his admiration for India's
democratic development model.
"Africa as a whole has grown by six percent in the last five-six
years. Both India and Africa are emerging and have their own
advantages. Africa can get technologies suited to its conditions
and needs from India," he said.
"India's development trajectory is very interesting from Africa as
it is based on the participation of the people and the community.
It is very important for Africa to learn from India," said
Another area where India's experience can be useful to Africa is
in the area of managing cultural and ethnic diversity. "Africa
also has many co-existent ethnic groups, but there are sometimes
clashes amongst them. Africa can learn from India as to how to
accommodate ethnic groups so that peace and order can be
Offering land to Indian investors, a contentious issue in some
circles in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian deputy prime minister outlined
a vibrant partnership between India and Africa in the field of
agriculture and food security.
"Land can be developed by Indian investors where both India and
Africa can benefit. Africa can learn from India the best result of
new agriculture technologies like floriculture and horticulture.
Africa has ample land that can be utilised to grow pulses."
Desalegn has an emotive connection with India as well and recalls
fondly Indian teachers who taught him in school in Ethiopia. He is
married to an Ethiopian woman who has been educated in India's
Aligarh Muslim University.
"Go to any home in Ethiopia and you will find someone who is
educated in India. That's why when Indians and Ethiopians visit
each other's country or homes, there is no cultural shock."
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