Prime Minister of India to visit Ethiopia, Tanzania

May 17, 2011

The prime minister, who leaves for Ethiopia on May 23, will co-chair the India-Africa Forum summit with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea and chairman of the African Union.

This will be the first-ever visit by an Indian prime minister to Ethiopia though presidents S Radhakrishnan in 1965 and V V Giri in 1972 visited Ethiopia.
Leaders of around 15 African countries, which are decided by the African Union (AU), will participate in the summit.

The African countries that have been asked by the AU to participate in the summit are: Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Namibia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Swaziland. Jean Ping, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, will also take part in the summit.

Ahead of the summit, India ruled out any competition with other emerging powers in Africa. “India is not engaged in any competition with others in Africa. We have a historical relationship with Africa. Africa has a special place in our hearts,” Vivek Katju, secretary in the external affairs ministry, told reporters, when asked whether India was playing a catch-up with China in Africa.
India’s bilateral trade with Africa is around $45bn. China’s bilateral trade with Africa, on the other hand, has already surpassed $110bn.

“The leaders will also focus on regional and international issues of common concern, including threats from terrorism and piracy,” Katju said. “It is expected that the leaders will discuss significant aspects of the India-Africa partnership with the objective of enhancing its content and widening its ambit for mutual benefit,” he said.

India also backed Africa for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. “India and all the countries of the African Union are on one mind on the issue of the UN reforms. The situation in the world demands reforms of international institutions,” Katju said.