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India trains sight on Africa

For the first time ever, India has decided to turn its attention to the wares offered by west and central Africa.

india Updated: May 20, 2006 03:00 IST

For the first time ever, India has decided to turn its attention to the wares offered by west and central Africa.

Till now guilty of diplomatic neglect of these nations as well as those of Latin America, New Delhi is ready with strategy documents outlining a multi pronged initiative to reach out to them. Sources said the Trade and Economic Relations Committee would discuss the MEA’s strategy papers submitted to the Prime Minister.

The strategy paper on the African nations is India's first focused effort to lend economic and political substance to its relationship with Senegal, Ghana, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Niger, Congo, Angola, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast amongst others.

The initiative will see New Delhi open missions in about four of the West African countries besides re-opening, after 14 years, its embassy in Kinshasa. The strategy is a "mixed bag of political and economic" initiative to construct a relationship high on value content. But apparently, the emphasis will be on the economic aspect. Clearly, "China's activism in this region and its rush for African resources has added a fresh urgency" to the Indian foreign policy to engage with west and central Africa. India is also keen to access the large market for its goods.

Sources said preliminary interaction has indicated the nations "look to India as a preferred source" for equipment in agriculture, engineering, transport and irrigation sectors.

New Delhi also appears set to indulge in pro-active diplomacy to build political and economic linkages as well as to expand its outreach there.

On the schedule is Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma leading a delegation for a business conclave in Ghana. Further, India will attend a Team 9 group meeting, a ministerial level initiative of African countries, in Africa.

Delhi has already extended a $500 million line of credit to assist Indian private companies to undertake development projects in Africa.

First Published: May 20, 2006 03:00 IST