Close on the heels of President Pranab Mukherjee’s maiden visit to three African nations -- Ghana, Ivory Coast and Namibia -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also likely to visit a few countries of the continent soon as part of India’s outreach to Africa.
The indications of this plan was given by Mukherjee while he was addressing the Indian community in Ghana’s capital Accra on Monday during a reception hosted by the Indian High Commissioner to Ghana K Jeeva Sagar.
Recalling ‘age-old’ friendly relations of Indians with Africa, the President said the relationship has deepened over the years.
“My first visit as President of India to three African countries is not accidental,” he said, adding it was a follow-up action initiated by the prime minister after India Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi last year.
“Very recently, just a few days before Vice President Hamid Ansari visited Tunisia and Morocco. I am visiting these three countries and shortly (the) prime minister is also going to undertake visits to four-five African countries to give a message that ‘Africa, we stand by you’,” the President said.
Speaking to the Indian community, he asked them to join the campaigns launched by Prime Minister Modi such as ‘Digital India’, ‘Startup India, Stand up India’, ‘Clean India Mission’, ‘Smart Cities’ etc.
The President said India’s trade with Africa is over $70 billion (Rs 4,69,000 crore) and investments worth about $35 billion (Rs 2,34,500 crore).
Addressing the community, he said their efforts were complementing many foreign policy measures taken by the Indian government to assist the friendly countries in Africa, including Ghana.
He said India has extended over $400 million (Rs 2,680 crore) of concessional credit to Ghana in the last few years for various projects.
“Exim bank is also providing funding for a railway project. India-Ghana bilateral trade has reached $3 billion (Rs 20,100 crore) and Indian investments in this country are estimated at around $1 billion (Rs 6,700 crore),” the President noted.
Mukherjee, during his talks with Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, said both the sides have agreed to take the trade to $5 billion (Rs 33,500 crore) by 2020.
He also praised the Indian diaspora for its engaging role as ‘force multiplier’ in the country’s economic growth.
“These giant strides would not have been possible without the active role of the diaspora. You have become force multipliers of India's growing economic strength. I thank you for your commitment,” he said.
Image: President Pranab Mukherjee received by the President of the Republic of Ghana John Dramani Mahama on his arrival at Flagstaff House in Ghana on Monday. Photograph: PTI Photo