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President leaves for 6-day tour of 3 African nations

Last updated on: June 12, 2016 16:09 IST

President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday embarked on a six-day visit to three African nations -- Ghana, Ivory Coast and Namibia -- to boost trade ties with these countries known for having "solid political system, where democracy has taken roots".

This is the maiden visit of any Indian President to Ghana and Ivory Coast whereas to Namibia, such a visit comes after two decades.

Even though Mukherjee has toured a number of countries in the continent, he will be visiting these countries for the first time in his long political career.

He was a given a traditional send off at Rashtrapati Bhavan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag among others.

"All these countries we look at as good countries in terms of a solid political system, where democracy has taken roots and these are all doing reasonably well in their regions," Secretary Amar Sinha has said.

The President is accompanied by Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh and MPs S S Ahluwalia and Mansukh L Mandaviya.

"It's a very important visit of the President. He is visiting two countries for the first time -- Ivory Coast and Ghana, besides Namibia where an (Indian) President will visit after 21 years. He is having a number of engagements.

"This is not a ceremonial visit. It has an educational component, economic component and a community component," MoS Singh said.

The first stop of Mukherjee will be in Accra, capital of Ghana, where there will be delegation level talks at the President's House, which is called Flag Staff House, on Monday.

The imposing building has been built by a renowned Indian builder, Shapoorji Pallonji.

There are likely to be discussions on some agreements on visa waiver and line of credits is also in the pipeline.

Mukherjee will pay homage to Ghana's first President Kwame Nkrumah at his mausoleum of in Accra.

He will also be unveiling a statue of Mahatma Gandhi which has been gifted by ICCR, besides planting a sapling.

"Investment in Ghana is substantial, nearly three billion dollars in various sectors. NRI's, professionals have invested in IT, Pharmaceuticals and other areas. If you look at last three year a figure, our trade has gone up nearly three times.

"Ghana's main trade consists of gold imports; it's nearly 80 percent of total trade. Ghanaian gold is in great demand in India," Sinha said.

The President will also be visiting the India-Ghana Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, set up by India, and will meet its faculty and alumni. 

IMAGE: President Pranab Mukherjee being presented a bouquet by PM Narendra Modi during his ceremonial departure for visit to Ghana, Côte dIvoire and Namibia, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday. Photograph: PTI

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