New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday said during his meeting with African leaders at Durban he would reaffirm India’s “strong and enduring commitment” as a steadfast partner for inclusive development in Africa.
The prime minister, in his statement ahead of departure for Durban to attend the two-day fifth summit of BRICS nations, said the summit will be the first such on African soil. The event begins on March 26.
“The ‘Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialization’ between BRICS and Africa will be an important theme of the Durban Summit,” he said.
The prime minister is attending the summit of nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa on the invitation of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, with whom he would be holding a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit.
He is to hand over the BRICS chair to South Africa at the Durban summit.
“Given India’s long-standing and close friendship with Africa and our growing economic partnership with the continent, including through the India-Africa Forum Summit mechanism, I look forward to the dialogue that BRICS leaders will have between themselves and, in a special retreat, with a large number of distinguished African leaders who are coming to Durban,” the prime minister said.
“I will reaffirm our strong and enduring commitment as a steadfast partner for inclusive development in Africa and for advancing our common interests in international forums.”
The BRICS nations together command nearly 26 percent of the world’s geographical area, and 43 percent of the world’s population as well as 17 percent of global trade.
India and Africa have witnessed a five-fold increase in their trade volume in the past seven years at $65 billion and are aiming to take it to $100 billion by 2015, up from earlier planned $90 billion target.
In 2011-12, exports from Africa to India stood at $43 billion, and imports from India stood at $23 billion, with Africa’s exports being double those of India.
As part of India’s growing partnership with African countries, New Delhi hosted the India-Africa Project Partnership conclave earlier March.
Over 900 delegates, including seven heads of state or government and more than 80 senior ministers and parliamentarians from 45 African countries participated in the meet.
The three-day event was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with Export-Import Bank of India.
The African continent has been the second fastest growing region in the world in the past decade. Its GDP (gross domestic product) recorded a growth rate of seven percent in the last decade. It is set to grow at five percent.
From a collective GDP of $1.6 trillion in 2008, its GDP is set to grow to $2.6 trillion by 2020.
India had extended 150 Lines of Credit worth $5.2 billion to African countries. Among the projects India is involved in Africa are a rural electrification plant at Burkina Faso, cassava plantation in Cameroon and a cement plant in Djibouti.
India has also been providing assistance to African countries under its Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme, which is a manifestation of South South cooperation.
–Indo-Asian News service