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India, Africa should deepen relationship on historical ties basis: Kenya PM Raila Amolo Odinga

New Delhi, Nov 17 (Calcutta Tube) India and Africa can deepen their partnership on the basis of their deep historical ties, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga said here Tuesday.

Speaking at a session on India-Africa partnership at the India Economic Summit, Odinga said co-operation between Africa, India and other emerging economies like Brazil and China is of strategic importance to all the parties involved.

‘Africa is strategically situated to partner India and the two regions can spur bilateral development,’ he said at the summit, organised by World Economic Forum and Confederation of Indian Industry.

The ‘two regions can work on their strong historical ties to deepen their partnership in the future’, he said.

Odinga noted that Indian investments in Africa have been private-sector driven and encouraged Indian companies to partner in Africa’s development, especially in sectors such as infrastructure, science and technology.

Hopeful of building up on the historic ties between the two regions, Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma described the India-Africa partnership as the defining partnership of the 21st century.

Referring to Pan Africa e-network project that aims to interlink 53 African countries through satellite and fiber-optic network, Sharma said: ‘India has set up an institutional mechanism to deepen its partnership with Africa and is taking a number of steps to reduce poverty, provide health and food security in Africa’.

‘The next logical step towards deepening ties between the two regions is a move towards Free Trade Agreement (FTA),’ he added.

Singapore-based DHL Global Forwarding’s CEO (Africa and South Asia Pacific) Amadou Dioulde Diallo also stressed the need for a free trade agreement between India and Africa as well as the need for direct trade routes to make such FTAs effective by ensuring connectivity.

Also expressing support, UN Assistant Secretary General Ajay Chibber said: ‘India and Africa are relatively similar levels of development compared to more advanced regions of the world. The two regions are well placed to enter into a symbiotic relationship with each other.’

Another theme which drew attention at the confluence was the rapidly growing Chinese economy and influence in Africa vis-a-vis the Indian economy.

‘During the past one decade India has lost out to China in their access to Africa,’ said Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and group CEO, Bharti Enterprises, but drew hope from ‘commonality’ of a large number of young people in both regions.

The Chinese strategy of economic expansion came under fire from James T. Motlatsi, deputy chairman, AngloGold Ashanti, South Africa.

Terming their strategy as a ‘new form of colonialism’, he said: ‘China has invested in Africa only for its resources and not for the development of the continent.’

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