Why Buhari is at­tend­ing In­dia-Africa sum­mit – Pres­i­dency

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Isi­aka Wak­ili & Ab­dul­la­teef Salau with Agency re­port

From Oc­to­ber 26 – 30, 2015 In­dia will host what it called the ‘big­gest diplo­matic event’ in New Delhi, the coun­try’s cap­i­tal with at least 41 African lead­ers — in­clud­ing Nige­rian Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari – in at­ten­dance for the In­dia-Africa Fo­rum Sum­mit (IAFS).

The Pres­i­dency con­firmed Pres­i­dent Buhari’s at­ten­dance of the event through the Se­nior Spe­cial As­sis­tant to the Pres­i­dent on Me­dia and Pub­lic­ity, Mal­lam Garba Shehu, last night.

Shehu said the sum­mit is a part­ner­ship be­tween the African Union (AU) and In­dia, and it bor­ders on de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion.

"The sum­mit is a part­ner­ship be­tween the African Union and In­dia. The sum­mit is on de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion", the pres­i­den­tial aide said.

In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi had in May in­vited Pres­i­dent Buhari for the sum­mit.

The 5 day sum­mit, ac­cord­ing to the In­dian gov­ern­ment, is a “cel­e­bra­tion of the close part­ner­ship be­tween Africa and In­dia. It is an ac­knowl­edge­ment of our shared his­tory as well as our fu­ture prospects.”

The In­dia-Africa Fo­rum sum­mit is the third, the first one was or­gan­ised in 2008 in New Delhi while the sec­ond was held in Ad­dis Ababa in 2011.

Both the first and sec­ond In­dia-Africa Sum­mits in Delhi and Ad­dis Ababa re­spec­tively wit­nessed re­stricted for­mat of not more than 15 lead­ers.

The of­fi­cial web­site ded­i­cated for the sum­mit, www.iafs.in, quoted the In­dian Prime Min­is­ter, Shri Naren­dra Modi, as say­ing “In­dia and Africa share a deep bond of friend­ship, forged by his­tory, com­mon chal­lenges and shared jour­ney on the path of progress.

“A vi­brant In­dia and a resur­gent Africa have a vi­sion of a close part­ner­ship... This vi­sion takes us be­yond our strong bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ships, our close ties with re­gional eco­nomic com­mu­ni­ties and aims to de­velop a new par­a­digm of co­op­er­a­tion which takes into ac­count Africa's own as­pi­ra­tions for pan-African in­sti­tu­tions and de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes.”

The sum­mit, Modi said would en­able con­sul­ta­tions at the high­est po­lit­i­cal level be­tween the heads of gov­ern­ment of 54 na­tions across Africa and the In­dian gov­ern­ment to give a new thrust to the age-old part­ner­ship.

In­dia has had a cor­dial re­la­tion­ship with African na­tions with most of them sup­port­ing New Delhi’s ef­forts to be­come a per­ma­nent mem­ber in an ex­panded UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, The In­dian Ex­press re­ports.

Ac­cord­ing to In­dia High Com­mis­sion in Nige­ria, In­dia es­tab­lished its diplo­matic mis­sion in Nige­ria in 1958 and that was two years be­fore Nige­ria gained its in­de­pen­dent in 1960.

“Both coun­tries have been in the fore­front of the in­ter­na­tional strug­gle against colo­nial­ism and apartheid and have closely col­lab­o­rated in var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional fora.

“A land­mark visit to Nige­ria in Septem­ber 1962, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Pun­dit Jawa­har­lal Nehru and his in­ter­ac­tion with Nige­ria’s first Prime Min­is­ter Tafawa Balewa had cre­ated mu­tual good­will, re­spect and friend­ship be­tween our two coun­tries and lead­ers.

“The his­toric State visit to Nige­ria by Prime Min­is­ter Dr Man­mo­han Singh in Oc­to­ber 2007 af­ter a gap of over forty five years pro­vided a se­ri­ous new im­pe­tus to our bi­lat­eral ties,” it said.

In­dian High Com­mis­sioner in Nige­ria, Aj­jam­pur Ghanashyam, for­mally pre­sented let­ter of in­vi­ta­tion to Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari, ac­cord­ing to The In­dia Ex­press.

The ma­jor fo­cus ar­eas of the sum­mit in­clude, boost­ing trade re­la­tions, en­hanc­ing se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion to com­bat threat of ter­ror­ism and ex­plor­ing ways to deal with scourge of poverty, dis­ease, il­lit­er­acy and hunger.

The sum­mit is to start with con­sul­ta­tions on of­fi­cial level fol­lowed by the head of states/gov­ern­ments level sum­mit on 29 Oc­to­ber 2015 with sched­uled bi­lat­eral meet­ings on 30 Oc­to­ber 2015.

Trade min­is­ters from sev­eral African na­tions are also ex­pected to con­verge on Oc­to­ber 23 in New Delhi for the In­dia Africa Trade Min­is­ters' Meet­ing (IATMM) to dis­cuss ways to bol­ster trade ties with In­dia and fast­track re­gional agree­ments, The Eco­nomic Times of In­dia re­ports.

"Prior to the fo­rum sum­mit, the Min­istry of Com­merce and Industry is or­gan­is­ing the 4th IATMM, which hopes to see the par­tic­i­pa­tion from across the African con­ti­nent. This will pro­vide us an op­por­tu­nity to take stock of our trade re­la­tions and ex­plore the pos­si­bil­i­ties of tak­ing our en­gage­ments to the next level," The Eco­nomic Times of In­dia quoted a se­nior of­fi­cial of In­dia’s Com­merce Min­istry.

"Trade min­is­ters of 53 coun­tries have been ex­tended in­vi­ta­tions to par­tic­i­pate in the 4th IATMM, along with the Com­mis­sioner for Trade and Industry, African Union Com­mis­sion, and Sec­re­tary Gen­er­als/Heads of 8 RECs in Africa," the source added.

The eight Re­gional Eco­nomic Com­mu­ni­ties (RECs) in­clude Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), South­ern Africa De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) and Com­mon Mar­ket for East­ern and South­ern Africa (COMESA) and Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African States (ECOWAS).

“Stronger trade ties, par­tic­u­larly in oil and gas sec­tor, strength­en­ing mar­itime co­op­er­a­tion and lift­ing the over­all en­gage­ment to a new high will be on top of the agenda.

“The sum­mit will see par­tic­i­pa­tion of over 400 busi­ness del­e­gates from Africa, be­sides all ma­jor In­dian cham­bers of com­merce,” In­dian Eco­nomic Times added.

In­dia is Nige­ria’s largest trad­ing part­ner in Africa, in re­cent times, has be­come the largest im­porter of Nige­rian crude oil, im­port­ing 136.4 mil­lion bar­rels of crude oil in 2014, ac­cord­ing to NNPC An­nual Statis­tics Bul­letin.

An­a­lysts said the sum­mit is also about show of strength to un­der­line grow­ing im­por­tance of the con­ti­nent for In­dia in its quest for an emerg­ing power sta­tus.

In­dia's cur­rent trade with Africa, ac­cord­ing to Eco­nomic Times of In­dia, stands at around USD 75 bil­lion and it has granted some USD 7.4 bil­lion for var­i­ous de­vel­op­men­tal and ca­pac­ity build­ing projects in the past four years. In­dia has im­ple­mented a to­tal of 137 projects in 41 African coun­tries dur­ing the said pe­riod.

“A num­ber of African coun­tries, in­clud­ing Tan­za­nia, Su­dan, Mozam­bique, Kenya and Uganda, have huge oil and gas re­serves and In­dia wants to in­vest in the sec­tor to fuel its eco­nomic growth. Hav­ing a solid part­ner­ship in ex­ploit­ing the blue econ­omy will be an­other ma­jor fo­cus,” it said.

A re­tired Mil­i­tary Of­fi­cer and For­eign Af­fairs An­a­lyst, Omooba Abd. Rasheed Ades­okan, said the sum­mit would be of greater ben­e­fit for not only Nige­ria but other African coun­tries, adding that Nige­ria should en­sure that noth­ing cut its re­la­tions with In­dia.

“It is in the in­ter­est of Nige­ria and other African coun­tries to strengthen their bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with In­dia and other Asian coun­tries be­cause In­dia is a huge mar­ket for African prod­ucts.”

An­other for­eign af­fairs an­a­lyst, Mo­hammed Sani Haruna, said the sum­mit will give In­dia an op­por­tu­nity to es­tab­lish if not con­sol­i­date its pres­ence in Africa, where its ri­val China, has made great in-roads.

“You know China and In­dia are in sort of a ri­valry, eco­nom­i­cally and even mil­i­tar­ily, with In­dia said to be on course to out-pop­u­late China in the near fu­ture. But In­dia is also aware of the im­por­tance of Nige­ria in what­ever am­bi­tion it has in the African con­ti­nent. So my prayer is that Nige­ria will make a very good use of the sum­mit to di­ver­sify its at­trac­tive­ness to the world. The west alone is not enough,” he said.

Daily Trust re­ports that In­dian com­pa­nies are among the largest em­ploy­ers in Nige­ria. “More than 100 com­pa­nies are thriv­ing in Nige­ria, which are owned or op­er­ated by In­di­ans or Per­sons of In­dian ori­gin. Th­ese com­pa­nies, among oth­ers, in­clude Bharti Air­tel, Tata, Ba­jaj Auto, Birla Group, Kir­loskar, Mahin­dra, Ashok Ley­land and Go­drej. Pharmaceuticals, steel and power trans­mis­sion are sec­tors where In­dian com­pa­nies have made a spe­cial mark,” said a state­ment herald­ing the event on iafs.com.

It also said that through “love for films and be­lief in the power of ed­u­ca­tion to trans­form lives” In­dia and Nige­ria have had ro­bust re­la­tion­ship… An older gen­er­a­tion of Nige­ri­ans re­mem­ber fondly be­ing taught by In­dian teach­ers and treated by In­dian doc­tors. Many of them have vivid mem­o­ries of watch­ing In­dian movies.

“In­dian films are be­ing tele­cast on lo­cal chan­nels and con­tinue to find a cap­tive au­di­ence in Kano, Kaduna and other parts of Nige­ria. The 35,000-strong In­dian com­mu­nity in Nige­ria, which in­cludes about 25,000 In­dian na­tion­als and about 10,000 Per­sons of In­dian ori­gin hold­ing other na­tion­al­i­ties, have ex­celled in dif­fer­ent fields in their adopted home­land,” it added.

Min­is­ter of State for Petroleum & Nat­u­ral Gas and Spe­cial En­voy of Prime Min­is­ter Mr Dhar­men­dra Prad­han invit­ing Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari to In­dia-Africa Fo­rum Sum­mit 2015

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