India’s primary aim is to help Africa speed up the momentum of its development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said as the country gets ready to host 54 senior representatives from the continent at the India-Africa Summit.
“We will also address key challenges of our times —food, health and environmental security,” he said.
Presenting a blueprint of cooperation at an interaction with African journalists on Friday, he listed out other key areas such as climate change and a sustainable blue (ocean) economy where India and the African countries could forge a beneficial partnership.
The third edition of the summit will be held on Thursday (October 29). It will be preceded by three days of various programmes that include foreign minister-level interactions. The PM himself is set to hold almost 40 bilateral meetings with visiting heads of state.
Modi also used the occasion to pitch for reforms in the United Nations Security Council. Seeking African support for India’s bid for a permanent seat in the UNSC, he said, “No institution will have that character today if it does not give voice to Africa or the world’s largest democracy, constituting one-sixth of humanity. That is why we ask for reforms of the UNSC and global financial institutions. India and Africa, constituting one-third of the global population, must continue to speak in one voice for these reforms.”
On climate change, the PM pointed out that India and Africa have “perhaps sinned the least and contributed the minimum to this big problem”. He added, “India and Africa have a tradition and it is in their culture not to pollute or to damage the environment.”
This common ground with Africa — which has a 2.7-million-strong Indian diaspora — goes beyond strategic considerations, he said. “It is a relationship with a strong emotional link… forged by our intersecting history, centuries-old ties of kinship, commerce and culture, common struggle against colonialism, quest for equality, dignity and justice among all people. We are blessed with a vast reservoir of mutual goodwill and confidence.”
Reiterating his government’s aim to “reinforce our partnership”, he said, “We will work together to address the problem of climate change. We will explore new areas like a sustainable blue economy. Our initiatives will aim to use the power of science and technology, space science and the networked world to transform lives.”
He also said India hoped to “learn a great deal from numerous African success stories in all walks of life.”