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Joint Press Conference following the conclusion of first India-Africa Forum Summit 9th April 2008, Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi

April 09, 2008

Prime Minister of India (Dr. Manmohan Singh): We have just concluded the First India-Africa Forum Summit. This is a historic Summit between India and countries representing the AU and the Regional Economic Communities of Africa. Over the last two days we have held extremely substantive and productive discussions on all issues which confront India and Africa. The Summit was held in an atmosphere of great friendship, warmth and sense of partnership.

The Summit has adopted the Delhi Declaration and the Africa-India Framework for Cooperation. These documents constitute the blueprint for our cooperation in the 21st Century.

Our decision to expand unilateral duty free and preferential market access for exports from all 50 Least Developed Countries, 34 of which are in Africa, and our offer of lines of credit amounting to $5.4 billion are steps in this direction. The enhancement of our budget for technical assistance and training programmes and, greater opportunities for African students to pursue studies in India reflect the priority we attach to human resource development and capacity building.

In the Retreat yesterday, we had a very constructive discussion on issues such as food and energy security, UN reforms, climate change and trade. We found several commonalities in the challenges that face us and in our aspirations. I offered Indian assistance in ushering in a Green Revolution in Africa through holistic capacity building in agricultural production, storage and transportation.

While we have met over these two days at the government level we have also undertaken several outreach events before or concurrent with the Summit. These are: (i) the first ever India-Africa Editors Conference; (ii) joint performances by Indian and African cultural troupes; (iii) a seminar of intellectuals from Africa and India on India-Africa Partnership in the 21st century; (iv) a programme for youth and women from Africa and (v) a business conclave.

India has also begun to develop cooperation with the Regional Economic Communities of Africa and with the African Union (AU). India’s pan-African e-network project is an example of our cooperation at the continent wide level.

We have laid firm foundations on which to build the new framework of cooperation. It is now time to plan ahead to implement the joint programmes of cooperation and to build a meaningful and productive Indo-African partnership. India looks forward to doing so with all the resources at our disposal.

We greatly cherish the friendship and empathy that Africa has always shown to India. This is an asset to our foreign policy. We in turn hope that this Summit has enabled us to convey to the people of Africa India’s readiness to be a partner in their quest for stability, peace and prosperity.

I would like to conclude by thanking my colleagues from Africa for their active participation in the Summit and for their whole-hearted endorsement for a stronger and deeper India-Africa partnership.

Thank you.

President of the United Republic of Tanzania and President of the African Union (Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete): Mr. Prime Minister, Excellencies Heads of State and Government:

I do not think I have much more to say. The Prime Minister has said it all. We had two days of very intense discussions. We have concluded well. We have come up with very useful conclusions which all of us are a party to. All of us are satisfied that if what we have agreed upon is followed through and implemented, definitely we are going to have a stronger and meaningful cooperation between India and Africa.

I thank you.

Chairperson of the African Union Commission (Prof. Alpha Oumar Konare): I am, as you may perhaps have guessed, we too are filled with a feeling of great satisfaction following the very important decisions that have been announced, and I am sure that they will be implemented. I also feel extremely grateful towards all the authorities of India and the Heads of State and Government of Africa who have participated in this very important meeting.

I am sure that concrete actions will be implemented and as the African Union Commission we will work in partnership with the Indian Government for the implementation of these conclusions. What I have observed in particular and what has been particularly satisfactory for me is the feeling, a very clear feeling, that we have had of having been truly understood by our friends and partners of India, that our friends and partners in India have really understood the aspirations of the African people and of their leaders.

Today, Africa does not need a guiding hand. Between India and us we do not need any intermediaries. But governments need to continue their dialogue. Our civil societies, our businessmen, our youth, your women, our workers, our labour, our intellectuals, have to continue to dialogue amongst them to broaden the cooperation, the partnership that we have launched today.

Let me draw you a picture in conclusion to my intervention. There is very little time now for Africa. We do not want to waste any time. We have to make very major decisions now. I think that the policy of the rider and the horse is finished for us. We do not want to be horses any longer on which people will continue to ride. Everyone has to get off our backs. We will run the race like everyone else. We have to be ready to run whether it is for a hundred metres, or a thousand metres or a marathon. Now the time for the rider and the horse has come to an end and we are equal partners in the race.

Therefore, Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to conclude by thanking you sincerely for the leadership that you have shown us along with our colleagues in this extremely important meeting which is indispensable for us.

Thank you.

Question (Mr. Manish Chand, IANS):This question is addressed to the President of Tanzania and President of African Union. Does Africa as a whole support India’s candidature for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council, and would the two sides work out a strategy to revive the flagging campaign for reform of the United Nations Security Council?

President of the United Republic of Tanzania and President of the African Union (Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete): I made reference to that in my closing remarks that in the discussions we both agreed that Africa and India deserve permanent representation in the Security Council. We also agreed that we support each other in this quest. Of course, broadly though we have been working together to promote or to preach for reform of the United Nations, a number of administrative reforms have already been undertaken in the United Nations, we are now ready to take on the citadel of power, reform of the Security Council, to make it more and more representative, to make it more democratic and to make it more responsive. I think we are in agreement; we have been working together. What we have actually done at this conference is to reaffirm our commitment to continue to act together so that India gets a place and Africa also gets a place.

Question (Mr. Martin Hacthon, Prensa Latina News Agency): My question is addressed to His Excellency the Prime Minister of India. India has engaged in multisectoral initiatives, programmes of assistance, with Africa; and this Summit proves this commitment and engagement. Will India move along the same lines towards Latin America and in the near future conceive or engage in a summit like this in which Africa could in turn take part to the benefit of developing nations in the spirit of South-South cooperation which is very needed?

Prime Minister of India (Dr. Manmohan Singh): Ladies and gentlemen, India stands committed to work with Africa to strengthen our cooperation in every possible way. We wish to be partners in Africa’s resurgence and that includes whatever we can do to help build capacities in Africa, whatever can be done to strengthen the human development base, what can be done to strengthen the production base both in agriculture and manufacturing paying particular attention to small manufacturing enterprises. So, in all these areas we will explore all possible ways in which India and Africa can work together to realize the immense potential that development of Africa offers to the world as a whole.

As for establishing systems that prevail in Latin America, I think this is an aspiration and it should evolve as we develop habits of working together the processes, evolutionary process. I for one do not rule out any effective mechanisms for promoting cooperation, be they trade, technology transfers, investment promotion. I think sky is the limit of cooperation between India and Africa.

Question: My question is addressed to His Excellency the Prime Minister of India. The President of the Commission of the African Union has said that Africa needs cooperation and investment. You had said that you had increased the investment in Africa. Mr. Konare has said that he was satisfied by the results obtained in Delhi. Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. President, in what way do you feel you have better understood the needs in Africa as compared to the Westerners who for such a long time seem to compare you to China? The Western media says that you are racing against China in order to seduce or attract the African continent. What would be your response?

Prime Minister of India (Dr. Manmohan Singh): We are not in any race for competition with China or with any other country. The desire for India and Africa to work together is not a new phenomenon. We have common colonial experiences. In the post-colonial era we have worked together bilaterally, regionally and in multilateral fora. What we have done today is to respond to Africa’s felt need as determined by the African people themselves. We do not know what is good for Africa. We do not seek to impose any pattern on Africa. It is for the African Governments and the African people to determine the path that they wish to pursue. To the extent it lies within our capabilities and abilities, we would be privileged to be partners in offering whatever help we can in this process.

Question (Ms. Huma Siddiqui, The Financial Express): I have a question for the President of Uganda and for the Prime Minister. I just wanted to understand what would be the impact of the duty free scheme that we have announced yesterday on the African market.

Prime Minister of India (Dr. Manmohan Singh): As far as the immediate impact is concerned, in my statements yesterday I mentioned the commodities which will be immediately beneficiaries of this arrangement. But we all agreed that in the long run if adequate benefit is to be derived, we must build the supply capacities. Therefore, this is where the private sector in India can work together with public-private partnership or through other mechanisms to ensure that these tariff preferences do not remain an empty gesture but they become instruments of building African capacities both in agriculture as well as in manufacturing and related activities.

President of Uganda (Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni): This trade access to the markets of the United States, European Union, China and now India is the most important contribution in the Afro cooperation with these continents. I have some experience with Uganda. The Americans opened their markets for us, for all of the other LDCs. Of course, we are going to graduate from that status because we cannot be sustainably LDCs. That is not part of our programme. Now the biggest problem I found was the confusion among the civil servants of Uganda. The civil servants are used to a beggar mentality. They used to go to Washington to beg for money. Now when they get a chance to make their own money, they do not respond very quickly. But we the political class, we the freedom fighters, made them start moving, and we are worried about the results. For instance, you take processing of fresh water fish from Uganda, and I believe even from other countries like Tanzania and Kenya, from Lake Victoria. There is a lake which they call Lake Victoria. We call it with another name but internationally it is known as Lake Victoria. Nalubaale is the real name of the lake. Now, fish from here is all over the place now, in Japan, in the United States. So, with this removal of taxes, such an activity becomes more encouraged. Take the example of textiles. The United States has got a market of 95 billion dollars of textiles. Now they opened their markets to us.

Our people are slow in responding, but eventually they have responded. So, that one definitely is helping us. Flowers from here are going all over the place, to the European Union. Apparently Europeans like flowers. For us in Africa we take flowers for granted because they are everywhere. But we discovered that Europeans like flowers and we are making money out of that. I do not want to talk about other countries but I know for instance a country like South Africa has made a lot of use of this market access. I think even some car manufacturers from Europe are now based in South Africa, exporting vehicles from there.

Uganda very soon will be a milk exporter. We have been keeping the cattle for last seven thousand years but we do not export milk. We have got so much milk we just throw it away. People in other parts of the world are starving. They have no food. And here we are pouring out milk in Uganda. Once we remove these obstacles of trade, Uganda can feed the world with milk because we have got a lot of it. I can give you very many examples. But what we need to do is to have a thorough discussion among us.

The problem with Africa is that we are talking of 53 countries. It is not like India which is one political unit. This is the advantage. For us, we are cut up in 53 countries. My experience may not be somebody’s experience. There even the Commission, our Secretariat, I do not think has had enough time to go round to get enough data. But I am telling you that this is a very very important step. Whatever the obstacles, they will be overcome.

Even if you forget about Africa for the time being, you look at Singapore. What helped Singapore’s transition in a very short time? Singapore is only five million people on a small island. By the export to these big markets abroad. If it were Singapore alone, they would not be so prosperous. How about South Korea? How does South Korea, a small country and small economy, become prosperous? It is all export-driven. That is what we would like for Africa.

I do not know why you decided to interfere with our arrangement. I am not supposed to speak. The Chairman is speaking for us.
Thank you very much.

Question (Mr. Bernard Mpalala, The Guardian, Tanzania): My question is addressed to the Indian Prime Minister. Mr. Prime Minister, it is clear that you are very much keen to forge close trade links with Africa. But when a foreigner looks at the Indian media, it does not seem that enthusiasm is much by your efforts. So, I want to ask you, Prime Minister, is the Indian public with you in this major undertaking?

Prime Minister of India (Dr. Manmohan Singh): What appears in the media often is a reflection of what engages the attention of the public at that particular moment. But as far as the thinking population of India is concerned I think there is today an enormous recognition among all sections of Indian population that applies to Governments, that applies to private industry in our country that India and Africa must become active partners in processes of social and economic development. This conference was born out of a feeling that we need to do lot more than we have attempted in the past to bring India and Africa together. I am quite sure that in months and years to come the Indian media will also draw appropriate conclusions that this is an idea whose time has truly come.

Question (Mr. Vijay Naik, Sakal Papers): Most of you, the Excellencies and the Presidents, in the last two days have talked about the food security which is becoming a problem. Just now the President of Uganda has said that this land seems to be a land of plenty. But in most of the African nations as well as India also, food security is a very important problem now. You have just referred to the Green Revolution which you would like to usher in Africa. How do you propose to actually address this important issue? I would like to address this question to the Prime Minister and the President of Tanzania.

Prime Minister of India (Dr. Manmohan Singh): There is no single answer to the quest for food security. But recent events have reinforced us in our conviction that the economies of India and the economies of Africa must acquire the momentum to meet all the food needs of India and Africa through domestic production. That requires efforts to increase investment in agriculture. That requires efforts to give new technologies to agricultural modernization and also we have to find new ways and means in which the small holder agriculture can become a viable proposition. In all these areas there is enormous scope for India and Africa working together. This Declaration pledges us to work together to realize the enormous latent potential of increasing food production in Africa. Yesterday one of the distinguished participants referred to the tremendous potential that a country like Sudan offers. Sudan could not only feed the whole of Africa, but I think the rest of the world also. These are the unexploited opportunities which provide unique opportunities for us to work together as well.

President of the United Republic of Tanzania and President of the African Union (Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete): As the Prime Minister said, we discussed the matter yesterday. There are two aspects of the crisis. For Africa there is the crisis of shortage of food in some countries. The other is the current problem of high prices because we have to import the food. In the developed world because there is huge production of surplus food, those farms have been put to biofuel. Biofuel production is creating a shortage of food and, therefore, creating the problem of high prices. So, to Africa it is a challenge in the sense that there is this problem of shortage of food in a number of countries and also the problem of high prices. But we also saw that there is an opportunity on the side of Africa. That is because currently Africa’s agriculture is peasant agriculture, traditional, plagued with lower levels of production and productivity. So, we think what Africa needs is really to unlock the production problem. If we would be able to increase productivity in African agriculture, Africa will not only be able to feed itself, but will also have huge surpluses to sell to the world. That is why we underscored helping Africa or assisting Africa in undertaking the Green Revolution. We felt that India, the experience that it has can certainly benefit Africa by working with India, share the experience that India has. Also India has the technology, has the skills, which if made available to Africa, certainly it would be able to help implement the African Green Revolution and, therefore, solve the food shortage problem; and Africa would again turn to be the bread basket of the world.

Question (Democratic Republic of Congo): My question is addressed to the Prime Minister of India. Why did you wait until 2008 to hold this India-Africa Summit?

Prime Minister of India (Dr. Manmohan Singh): Ladies and gentlemen, we have been working on this idea ever since we came to office some four years ago. We have been in the process of discussion with our colleagues from Africa the African Union, Regional Communities – and also our distinguished colleagues from various parts of Africa. It has taken us time but we have been working at this idea for the last at least two and a half years.


Text in italics is the simultaneous interpretation of French original.


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