PM’s interaction with African journalistsOctober 23, 2015
Prime Minister’s interaction with African journalists at the Editors Forum for 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit
Opening Statement by Prime Minister
A very warm welcome to all of you. Some of you have probably had the opportunity of visiting India before and for some probably it is the first time that you are visiting India. I hope that for your comfort you have been well looked after here. I know that there is an official programme but if you have any suggestion of what you would like to do here in addition to the programme that has been set up for you, that can be accommodated. I also want that your visit here is not only important in the context of the India-Africa Forum Summit but the very fact that it is a visit to India, it is important and there will be full efforts on the part of my Government.
I feel that this India-Africa Forum Summit is very important from many points of view. Of course for India it is very important given that we are the host country, but this is the first summit where all the 54 countries of Africa have been invited and all the 54 countries are participating. In that sense the India-Africa Forum Summit is the biggest event of its sort and partnership at this scale.
Till now as per the information that we have received, 40 countries will be represented at the Head of State, Head of Government level, the rest are being represented by senior Ministers. This time, in association with the India-Africa Forum Summit there is also the Conference of Trade Ministers because we would want that in the days and months and years to come the economic relations between India and Africa should be further strengthened.
The India-Africa Forum Summits have had two summits earlier, in 2008 and 2011, and now this is the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit taking place. Earlier the two summits were organised on the basis of the Banjul Formula, and in that sense very limited countries had come and participated. But this time we decided to in fact come out of this formula and ensure that there was participation from all countries of Africa.
This I think is going to take relations between India and Africa to new heights. I think it is this partnership and this equality that is being given to all the countries. This is an initiative on our part and I think this is what makes this summit different from the two earlier versions. There are going to be meetings at various levels, at the top level. I think it is this partnership with all which is going to bring a new freshness in every corner of Africa. This new freshness is not just for Africa but also for India that this summit is going to bring new freshness in our relations.
I have been told that of course you have come to India and you are going to have a week-long programme during which you will be taken to various parts of the country and you will be seeing for yourself the progress and development. But in addition to you there are 400 journalists who are coming to cover this event from Africa and they are coming on their own with their own means. I think this itself indicates the importance that is being attached to this summit. From the discussions that I have been having with everyone, this summit in fact is attracting the focus of the entire world and people are in fact looking at it with great importance and I see this as a very good sign.
The relations between India and the countries of Africa, these relations and these bonds that we have, are not just political and economic but we also have a very rich cultural tradition. It is said that millions of years ago in fact the two parts of the Earth were one piece and it was only much later that they became two separate pieces of land, one was Asia and the other was Africa; and we have an Ocean which divides us. The west coast of India and the east coast of Africa in fact are linked by the sea.
I hail from the west coast of India from the State of Gujarat. It was in fact the Gujaratis who started trade and commerce with Africa and maritime relations earlier on. Even today there are 270,000 Indians who live in Africa and many of them are Gujaratis. In fact I too have had my links with Africa not only when I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat but even before that. I have always had relations with the African continent and whenever guests came they always met me. I have always had very good relations with various personalities of Africa. So, from a personal point of view I have always had very close links with this region.
In fact there are many similarities between India and Africa and together India and Africa we represent one third of the world’s population. The population of India equals in fact the population of the entire African continent. Africa in fact represents the youngest region in the world and India too is the youngest country. Perhaps when we look at the world today these are the only two places where 65 per cent of the population is below 35 years of age and I feel that this is a matter of great fortune for both Africa and for India.
The bilateral trade between India and Africa has been growing very rapidly and in the past few years it has grown by eight to nine times. I feel that after this summit it is going to see another major jump. India also is a major investor in Africa today and this is especially so in the oil sector and this is giving a new dynamism to the African economy.
Following the two previous India-Africa Forum Summits, India has given to the tune of 7.4 billion dollars of concessional credit and this has been used to enhance in the fields of infrastructure, agriculture, industry, energy and water. In more than 40 countries today there are more than 100 projects which are under implementation.
In the same vein, India has invested 1.2 billion dollars in more than 100 institutes and this is contributing in a major way to human resource development. For me I think the point which makes me the most happy is that there is this partnership between India and Africa that is human resource development, the capacity building. And in the last few years we have had the good fortune of imparting education and training to around 25,000 African students and I think this is a matter of good fortune for India. Today in Africa many of the leaders who are now in power and in top position have had their education and training in India.
I think between India and Africa there is another aspect that links us with many countries in Africa and that is solar power from which many African countries are benefiting. I think this is going to become a very strong community of nations and in the times to come the problem of climate change that the world is trying to counter and fight, we are going to be playing a very major role in mitigation and lessening the effects of climate change.
I think both India and Africa can feel proud of the fact that today the world is facing the problem of climate change, of the concerns regarding global warming, I think both India and Africa have had a tradition and it is in their culture not to pollute or not to damage the environment, and we have perhaps sinned the less and contributed the minimum to this big problem to the world. I think this also is a common factor between India and Africa.
I am convinced that during this summit and following the summit we are going to have very important decisions which will give both India and Africa a new sense of self confidence, our relations are going to become closer and deeper, and together I think we can lay the foundations of what we can contribute to the world.
Once again a very warm welcome to you. I will also have the opportunity of greeting you during the summit once again. Thank you.
Text of Prime Minister’s written interview with African journalists at the Editors Forum for 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit
Question: What is the strategic importance of Africa to India in socio-economic and political terms? Is India’s engagement with Africa a catch-up process with China in the scramble for resources?
Answer: The participation of all African countries, including over 40 at the level of Heads of State or Government, in the Summit is a testimony to the deep bonds of friendship and mutual faith between India and Africa.
This is a relationship that is beyond strategic considerations. It is a relationship with a strong emotional link. It has been forged by our intersecting history; our centuries-old ties of kinship, commerce and culture; our common struggle against colonialism; our quest for equality, dignity and justice among all people; and, our shared aspirations for our progress and a voice in the world. We are blessed with vast reservoir of mutual goodwill and confidence.
India and Africa constitute one-third of the world’s population. A large majority of them are in their youth. Indeed, India and Africa will have a significant part of the global youth population in this century. Their future will shape the course of this world to a great extent.
India and Africa are now the bright spots of hope for the global economy. India is the fastest growing major economy today. Africa is experiencing rapid growth, too. While India and Africa will both do much on their own to advance prosperity and peace for their people, our partnership can be a source of great strength for each other, both to reinforce and accelerate each other’s economic development and to build a more just, inclusive, equitable and sustainable world. We have complementary resources and markets; and, the power of our human capital. We have shared global vision.
Our approach to partnership with Africa is driven by the aim of empowerment, capacity building, human resource development, access to Indian market, and support for Indian investments in Africa, so that the people of Africa have the capacity to make their own free choices and the capability to shoulder the responsibility of their continent’s development. Our relationship with Africa is unique and does not need any point of reference.
Question: How and to what extent have the relations between India and Africa helped in the development process of the African continent? How is it a win-win situation for both?
Answer: Africa’s development in recent years has been impressive. First and foremost, it is the result of African vision, leadership and efforts to strengthen peace and support economic development in the continent. There are many inspiring models and examples of African success stories in sustainable development and empowerment of people, especially youth and women.
India is privileged to be a development partner for Africa. From the time African nations started gaining independence, we have been supporting human resource development in African countries. Our cooperation now takes many forms and is expanding rapidly in scale and range.
34 African countries now enjoy duty free access to the Indian market of 1.25 billion people. Over the last two IAFS, we have committed USD 7.4 billion in concessional lines of credit, which is contributing towards development of infrastructure, light manufacturing, public services and clean energy in Africa. We have committed grant assistance of USD 1.2 billion that is helping finance human resource development and establishment of over 100 capacity building institutions in Africa. In the past three years alone, 25000 Africans have been trained or educated in India. The Pan Africa e-network, which now connects 48 African countries, is becoming the new highway of regional connectivity and human development.- India has emerged as a major and rapidly growing source of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa. Indian tourist flow to Africa is also increasing.
Africa’s development is a huge opportunity for India, just as Africa’s resources, including oil, power India’s economic growth and create wealth and jobs in Africa. The continent’s progress will add great stability and momentum to the global economy and benefit India as well.
Question: Some analysts say that the effects of colonialism and neo-colonialism are acting as an impediment to peace, stability and development of Africa. India too underwent such a historical legacy, but has been able to break free of this cycle of strife and fragmentation, and to concentrate on governance, development and growth. What lessons does India hold in this regard for Africa?
Answer: India’s independence had a strong positive impact on anti-colonialism and freedom movements in Africa. We are also proud to have stood firmly in the cause of independence of African countries and to end apartheid.
Africa does not need any lessons from us. Colonial legacy left a long and deep impact on all of us. Africa, too, has passed through difficult times. However, Africa is making impressive progress now. The continent is more settled and stable. African nations are coming together to take responsibility for their development, peace and security. Africans are exercising their franchise in increasingly large numbers. We see growing efforts at economic reforms and regional economic cooperation and integration. Economic growth has accelerated. Around 95% of Africa is on mobile telephone now. There are laudable initiatives on education, innovation, empowerment of women, skill development and conservation of Nature.
Of course, Africa continues to face many familiar development challenges. There are also new security problems, including from terrorism and extremism, which also affect other parts of the world.
Africa has a rich history of accomplishments; abundant natural resources; and, a large and talented youth population. I have full confidence in the African leadership and the African people to realise the vision of “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want”.
India will always be there, as a friend and partner, to share our experience, expertise and resources to support African nations in whatever manner they want. Since many of our challenges are similar to what Africa faces, our solutions may be relevant in the African context.
Question: What can both India and Africa do to benefit from greater bilateral trade and investments? What are the achievements in this sphere since the first India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-I) in 2008?
Answer: I see enormous opportunities for trade and investment ties between India and Africa. India will be the most populous country and Africa the most populous continent in this century. We both have young populations. Africa is also blessed with huge resources. Both India and Africa will grow, modernise and urbanise at a rapid rate.
Our economic partnership is gathering momentum. India’s trade with Africa, which was about US$ 30 billion in fiscal 2007-08 more than doubled to about US$ 72 billion in fiscal 2014-15. Besides economic growth in India and Africa, trade has also benefited from India’s decision in 2008 to offer duty free access to Indian markets to all Least Developed Countries, in the context of the first India-Africa Forum Summit. 34 African countries are direct beneficiaries of the scheme.
India has emerged as a major investor from the developing world in Africa, surpassing even China.
Our Lines of Credit to Africa, which is cumulatively USD 7.4 billion from the first two IAFS is creating infrastructure in Africa and boosting bilateral trade. Similarly, Africa’s vast resources and availability of arable land can not only power Africa’s prosperity, but can also become a major source of meeting India’s rapidly growing demand.
India has focused development partnership in human resource development and establishment of institutions in Africa, which are, in turn, creating the skills and capacities in Africa, including in areas like agriculture, food processing, textiles, small industries, etc., to expand exports to India and other countries.
I should also add that Africa’s laudable efforts at integrating Africa’s markets would also stimulate bilateral trade and investment.
As both India and Africa emerge as the new frontiers of opportunities in the 21st century, I am looking forward to the third India-Africa Forum Summit to explore with African leaders how we can further expand our economic partnership and also work to shaping a more favourable global economic environment and institutional framework.
Question: In what ways can the New Development Bank established by BRICS countries in July 2015 benefit African countries?
Answer: The New Development is a significant initiative that can have a profound impact on the global financial order. For one, it is, perhaps, the first major initiative on a multilateral financial institution along with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in recent times. It has brought together the five BRICS countries as equal partners in the establishment of the Bank, which reflects a completely new paradigm of financial structure of such institutions. The lending practices will be designed keeping the interests and experiences of the developing world in mind. It has opened a new avenue for financing infrastructure investments in developing countries. I think Africa will be a major area of focus and we would also, hopefully, have an African window or regional presence of the Bank in the future.
Question: Agricultural and related activities are fundamental to the people of the African continent? It also sustains a majority of the people of India. How can India assist Africa in adopting and maintaining sustainable agricultural practices and development?
Answer: Africa has 60% of the arable land in the world, but produces 10% of the global food output. Development of the agriculture sector can not only drive Africa’s economic development, employment and food security, it could also turn Africa into the food bowl for the world. African achievements in recent times give us confidence in the future of agriculture in Africa .
India has made considerable progress in agriculture and dairy sectors over the last few decades. We are among the leading global producers in these sectors. Indian success has taken place in the context of low capital intensity farming and varied biodiversity conditions, which can be of great relevance to Africa. Indeed, agricultural experts from India have been deployed in various African countries since the 1960s. Scholarships for agriculture-related courses in India are very popular in Africa. Agriculture remains an area of priority in our development partnership with Africa. It takes many forms: human resource development, creation of agriculture-related institutions in Africa, irrigation projects, technology transfer and modern agriculture practices. As we now look to the future, we will continue to work with Africa in these areas, but also address emerging challenges: climate resilient agriculture and adaptation to climate change. We will also focus on post-harvest processing and supply chain. I also look forward to hearing African priorities in this regard.
Question: The economic partnership between India and Africa extends beyond trade and investment to technology transfer, knowledge sharing and capacity building. What more can be expected from India in the next few years?
Answer: India-Africa economic partnership is not transactional. It rests in the belief of our shared destiny and the power of South-South cooperation in transforming the lives of our people.
India will always work in accordance with the requirements and priorities of our friends in Africa. We will also work together to harness opportunities and possibilities created by new technology and address emerging challenges like climate change. The roadmap for the future will reflect our shared vision and goals, and our respective strengths and capabilities.
Our areas of focus will continue to be on human resource development, institution building, infrastructure, clean energy, agriculture, health, education and skill development. We will also work together on addressing climate change and sustainable development of blue economy.
We will certainly raise our partnership to a much higher level in the years ahead. We will also make our partnership more effective, based on a comprehensive review of our Development Partnership programme with Africa, particularly in terms of capacity building, infrastructure support and technology sharing, and discussions with our African partners.
Question: Does India’s commitment to reform of the global political and economic order, dovetail with its aspirations to become a member of the UN Security Council?
Answer: The world is undergoing political, economic and technological transition on a scale rarely seen in recent history. We have four times as many member countries in the United Nations as we had at its inception. Awareness of rights and aspirations for progress is more widespread now. Global power is more distributed. We live in a digitally networked world, which is changing the character of the global economy. Threats to peace and security have become more complex, unpredictable and undefined. In many ways, our lives are becoming globalized, but fault-lines around our identities are growing. Terrorism, cyber and space are entirely new frontiers of threats, opportunities and challenges. Climate change is a pressing global challenge. The developing world is dealing with complexities of a new wave of urbanization.
Yet the global order, its institutions and our mindsets continue to reflect the circumstances that existed at the end of the last World War. These institutions have served us well, but they must be reformed in order to remain effective and relevant in the new era. If global institutions and systems do not adapt, they will risk irrelevance. We might have a more fragmented world and our collective ability to deal with the challenges and changes of our era will also be weakened.
That is why India advocates reforms in global political, economic and security institutions. They must become more democratic, inclusive and representative of our world. No institution will have that character today, if it does not give voice to Africa or the world’s largest democracy, constituting one-sixth of humanity. That is why we ask for reforms of the United Nations Security Council and global financial institutions. India and Africa, constituting one-third of the global population, must continue to speak in one voice for these reforms.
Question: What will the Summit (IAFS-III) produce as a tangible result in terms of cooperation between India and Africa?
Answer: Our objective is to deepen the spirit of partnership, strengthen our international solidarity and expand our cooperation. When I look at the Africa’s vision for itself, captured so eloquently in Agenda 2063 document, I believe that our development goals and international aspirations are closely aligned. This will be the foundation of our partnership in the years ahead.
At the third India-Africa Forum Summit in Delhi, we hope to set substantially higher and ambitious targets for our development partnership. We also aim to make it more effective, drawing upon our experience over the past decade. As in the past, our primary aim is to support our African partners in their efforts to accelerate the momentum of their development. We will also address key challenges of our times, including food, health and environmental security. We will create conditions that stimulate trade and investment flows between our countries. We will work together to address the problems of climate change. We will explore new areas like a sustainable Blue Economy. Our initiatives will aim to use the power of science and technology, Space science and the networked world to transform lives. This is not a one-way street. We hope to learn a great deal from numerous African success stories in all walks of life.
We will also reinforce our partnership on the global platform and deepen our security cooperation, including on maritime security, countering terrorism.
The third Summit, which will see the participation of all African nations for the first time, will launch a new era of India-Africa partnership.
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