New Delhi, Mar.23 (ANI): Lauding the gradual and growing evolution of the India-Africa partnership, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said this long and historic relationship has acquired a sustainability that should do both New Delhi and the African continent proud.
Speaking at the Fifth India-Africa Conclave, Mukherjee said that both India and Africa have marched together; traversed similar paths; shared similar values and cherished the same dreams.
Describing the partnership as time tested and multi-faceted, he said: "Today, both India and Africa have emerged as strong and dependable partners, who are well positioned to confront the growing challenges facing humanity, be it combating the scourge of international terrorism, eradicating hunger and poverty, tackling global warming, or evolving new frameworks for international institutions."
India's relationship with Africa, he said, is based on the solid foundation of "our steadfast commitment for the rapid growth and progress of Africa.
"The formalisation of an institutional mechanism for the India-Africa dialogue in the form of the India-Africa Forum Summit is a reflection of India's commitment to work with the continent to fulfil its aspirations," he added.
He used the occasion to urge Least Developed Countries (LDCs) of which 33 are from the African continent to use India's Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme (DFTP), which was introduced in April last year, to further their development.
He announced that this year the Ministry of External Affairs has designed special courses for experts from Africa in the field of mining and new and renewable energy resources.
"We have (also) increased the number of training slots for African countries from 1100 to 1600," he added.
"Over the next five to six years India will also undertake in Africa, on a grant basis, projects in critical areas such as higher and vocational education, science, IT, agriculture and renewable energy. A sum of USD 500 million has been allocated for this," Mukherjee said.
He also said that the Government of India's Pan-African e-Network Project was another shining example of the India-Africa partnership. It was a project aimed at linking major universities in different regions of Africa with major Indian universities and centres of excellence on the one hand, as also major hospitals in Africa with super-specialty hospitals in India, on the other.
It was also a matter of satisfaction to note that India-Africa bilateral trade had reached USD 36 billion in 2007-08, up from USD three billion in 2000-01, Mukherjee said. (ANI)