Modi may visit Africa next month to boost ties

The Prime Minister is expected to visit multiple countries even though his first destination is likely to be South Africa.

He might also visit Mozambique, Kenya and Ethiopia, sources told BusinessLine. Though this will be Modi’s first visit to the region after he assumed office in May 2014, in October 2015, India hosted the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS), in which all 54 African countries participated. Bilateral ties have been growing at a blistering pace in the past 10 years. Two-way trade exceeded $70 billion last year. The focus of Modi’s visit will be to strengthenpolitical and economic ties.

“The government has done a lot of work on Africa. India hosted the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) last year that saw unprecedented attendance by all African heads of state. The Prime Minister’s visit is likely to give a push to economic and political ties, ocean economy, security aspect and Diaspora ties. The ancient East Africa is part of India’s hinterland and holds significant importance,” said Nalin Surie, Director General, Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).

So far, India has extended concessional credit lines worth $7.4 billion for the development of the African economy, especially in sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, industry, energy and water.

India is also engaged in more than a 100 projects across 40 African countries. It also offers a plethora of scholarships for African students to pursue higher studies here. Recently, the diplomatic ties between the two sides hit a rough patch with the killing of a Congolese student in Delhi. African envoys even threatened to stop sending their students here.

On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met a delegation of African students over the incident and said that the attack was not racially motivated. The Ministry is also planning to initiate programmes of awareness and sensitisation in areas that have a heavy concentration of African students.

Ansari in Morocco

Meanwhile, Vice-President Hamid Ansari who is in Morocco, as part of a two-nation tour, made efforts to build on diplomatic gains from the India-Africa Summit and lay platform for a future partnership.

Meanwhile, India said it wanted to make Morocco the hub for its economic activities in the African region as the two countries sought to inject fresh momentum in bilateral ties.

Ansari held wide-range of talks with the Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane. Two MoUs on cultural cooperation and institutional training were also signed.