Opening remarks by EAM during his interaction with journalists from Africa

October 12, 2010

1. It is a pleasure to welcome you to India. I hope you are having a professionally fruitful and pleasant stay in New Delhi.

2. I am particularly happy that for the first time ever, we are hosting distinguished journalists, from ten of our closest friends in Africa.

3. We have historical linkages with the African continent, having shared many trials and tribulations together. It is gratifying that our relationship has transformed in recent decades and years. We have now become developmental partners, looking out for each others interests and well being.

4. India, the largest democracy in the world, is a developing country with numerous challenges and strengths to bring a better life to our people, particularly the most vulnerable among them. We have the vision, determination and ability, to overcome our principal challenge, that of poverty alleviation. For this purpose, we have to address all that which stands in the way including infrastructure bottlenecks.

5. We have accumulated a host of developmental experiences, which are perhaps more relevant to fellow developing countries. We are privileged not only to share them, but also to share our limited resources with friends in Africa.

6. The India-Africa Forum Summit held in April 2008 was based on the new architecture, the common vision we share with African countries. It is based on the Banjul Formula and is not an unilateral exercise. In order to implement the decisions taken at the first summit, a joint action plan has been developed which focuses on capacity building, human resource and infrastructure development, bridging the information gap and forging closer media contacts.

7. We are committed to go by the priorities and wishes of our African friends, in crafting programmes of cooperation through a consultative process.
8. This is greatly facilitated by regular high level political exchanges. We have had the honour of hosting a number of African leaders in the last couple of years. I paid a most fruitful visit to Seychelles, Mauritius and Mozambique last July.

9. We look forward to the second India Africa Forum Summit in Africa in 2011.

10. I am also pleased to note that a number of initiatives jointly agreed to in 2008 are already taking shape including, the 20,000 scholarships over a five year period, a Pan-African E-Network, infrastructure projects including Pan-African Centers of Excellence, as well as two billion dollars in fresh lines of credit.

11. Last but not the least, India and Africa need to infuse new vigour in our cultural and people to people ties. We have been fascinated by each other’s cultural traditions and have a lot to offer in both directions.

12. In this pleasant task, I seek the support and partnership of our media friends from Africa and India, without which this objective cannot be achieved. India is an open book. I would like you to read a few leaves from this book and draw your own conclusions during the few days of your stay in India.

New Delhi
October 12, 2010