Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Address by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at the Plenary Session of the 2nd Africa-India Forum Summit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 

The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh addressed the Plenary Session of the 2nd Africa-India Forum Summit at Addis Ababa today. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s speech on the occasion:

“I am delighted to be here today in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia and the Headquarters of the African Union.

I bring to Africa fraternal greetings from the people of India.

This is a historic gathering. It is the first time that the leaders of India and Africa are meeting on such a scale on African soil.

I would specially like to greet those leaders who are participating in the Africa India Forum Summit process for the first time and were not with us in New Delhi in 2008.

The India-Africa partnership is unique and owes its origins to history and our common struggle against colonialism, apartheid, poverty, disease, illiteracy and hunger. 6. India will never forget Africa's role in inspiring our own struggle for national liberation. It was here that Mahatma Gandhi developed his political philosophy and developed the concepts of non-violence and peaceful resistance.

At the first India-Africa Forum Summit in 2008 in New Delhi we decided to make a new beginning. We drew courage from our togetherness and inspiration from our conviction that a robust and contemporary India-Africa partnership is an idea whose time has come.

Our officials and Ministers have worked hard for our second Summit in Ethiopia. Many events involving a wide cross-section of society, include trade and business, have been held. These events have contributed to making the second Africa-India Forum Summit a people’s movement.

I believe we have reason to be satisfied with what we have achieved since 2008. But our people expect much more and we have to work hard to deliver on these expectations.

The current international economic and political situation is far from favourable, particularly for developing countries. Even as the global economy is recovering from the economic crisis, fresh political upheavals are taking place. The world faces new challenges in assuring food and energy security. Global institutions of governance are outmoded and under stress.

We therefore need a new spirit of solidarity among developing countries. We must recognise that in this globalised age we all live interconnected lives in a small and fragile planet. We must work together to uplift the lives of our people in a manner that preserves the sustainability of our common air, land and water.

There is a new economic growth story emerging from Africa. Africa possesses all the prerequisites to become a major growth pole of the world. There is good news in the struggle against HIV and AIDS, as well as in improving literacy, reducing infant mortality and building institutions of representative government.

India will work with Africa to realise its vast potential. We believe that a new vision is required for Africa’s development and participation in global affairs. We do not have all the answers but we have some experience in nation building which we are happy to share with our African brothers and sisters.

It is in this spirit that I wish to outline some initiatives for the consideration of our African partners. These will enhance our development partnership which are founded on the pillars of mutual equality and common benefit.

We will offer 5 billion US dollars for the next three years under lines of credit to help Africa achieve its development goals. We will offer an additional 700 million US dollars to establish new institutions and training programmes in consultation with the African Union and its institutions.

Under the lines of credit that we offered at the first Summit, we had specifically looked at promoting regional integration through infrastructure development. On the advice of the African Union, I am happy to announce that we would support the development of a new Ethio-Djibouti Railway line to the tune of 300 million US dollars.

Following the success of the Pan-African E-Network Project we propose to take the next step and establish an India-Africa Virtual University. This we hope will help to meet some of the demand in Africa for higher studies in Indian institutions. We further propose that 10,000 new scholarships under this proposed University will be available for African students after its establishment.

We would like to make education in India an enriching experience for each student who comes from Africa. We are substantially raising the number of scholarships and training slots for African students and experts, including under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme. Our total commitment for the next three years by way of scholarships to Africa students will stand at more than 22,000.

At the first Summit in 2008, we had focused on capacity building in the human resource development sector. We believe it would be logical to consolidate this approach. I wish to propose the establishment of the following new institutions at the pan African level:

An India-Africa Food Processing Cluster - This would contribute to value-addition and the creation of regional and export markets;

An India-Africa Integrated Textiles Cluster - This will support the cotton industry and its processing and conversion into high value products;

An India-Africa Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting - This will harness satellite technology for the agriculture and fisheries sectors as well as contribute towards disaster preparedness and management of natural resources;

We have received a request to support the establishment of an India-Africa University for Life and Earth Sciences. We would be happy to support this important venture; and finally,

An India-Africa Institute of Agriculture and Rural Development.

One of the biggest gaps in our interaction is that of insufficient air connectivity. We should accord this high priority. To begin with, India would be happy to increase the access of African airlines to Indian cities in a significant manner over the next three years.

Africa has strong regional organisations which play an important role in supporting development activities. We will therefore work with Regional Economic Communities to establish at the regional level, Soil, Water and Tissue Testing Laboratories, Regional Farm Science Centres, Seed Production-cum-Demonstration Centres, and Material Testing Laboratories for Highways.

At the bilateral level, we propose to establish institutes for English language training, information technology, entrepreneurship development and vocational training. As part of our new initiatives in the social and economic sectors we will establish Rural Technology Parks, Food Testing Laboratories, Food Processing Business Incubation Centres and Centres on Geo-Informatics Applications and Rural Development.

We should encourage trade and investment flows as well as transfer of technology. The private sectors should be fully involved in the efforts to integrate our economies. I propose that we establish an India-Africa Business Council which will bring together business leaders from both sides.

India has consistently supported the development of African capacities in the maintenance of peace and security. As a token of our commitment to supporting Africa’s endeavours for seeking African solutions I am happy to announce that India will contribute 2 million US dollars for the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Today, the people of Africa and India stand at the threshold of a historic opportunity. Our nations span the diversity of the human condition. We account for the whole range of linguistic, religious and ethnic diversity in the world. Our success in making open, tolerant and rule based societies flourish in conditions of relative underdevelopment will have a profound effect on the future of the world.

Tomorrow the people of Africa will celebrate Africa Day. I am delighted to be present in Africa on this very auspicious occasion, and extend my heartiest congratulations to this great Continent.

In conclusion I wish to convey my deepest gratitude to the people and government of Ethiopia for hosting us in this beautiful city. I also thank the African Union Commission for the excellent arrangements made for the Summit.

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