Why Buhari is attending India-Africa summit – Presidency
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