India’s cooperation with Africa will be centered around health, digital and green growth: Vice President

The Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu today reiterated that India believes the progress of the world is contingent on the development of the Global South and that ‘we attach utmost priority to the India-Africa relationship’.

The Vice President, who is on a three-nation tour of Gabon, Senegal and Qatar, was addressing the business community at the India-Gabon Business event in Libreville, Gabon yesterday. Speaking about India’s growing economic relationship with Africa, he said that ‘India’s own vision of cooperation with Africa will increasingly center around health, digital and green growth. And this is so because we believe that these are Africa’s priorities as well’.

Naidu noted that India-Gabon bilateral trade has crossed US$ 1 billion mark in 2021-22 despite the pandemic and that India is now the 2nd largest destination for Gabonese exports. He also noted the presence of several Indian companies in diverse sectors such as Oil & Gas, Mining, pharmaceuticals, wood processing, etc, especially in the Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ). Earlier today, Shri Naidu visited the Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ) and witnessed the facilities and interacted with the Indian entrepreneurs there.

Touching on energy cooperation, the Vice President said that Gabon is an important partner for India’s energy security requirement, and observed that India imported about US$ 670 million worth crude oil from Gabon in 2021-22. He said that there is significant potential for diversifying  India-Gabon engagement in oil & gas sector by enhancing cooperation in both upstream and downstream domains.

Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, who is also a part of the official delegation, addressed the business community and called for further exploring India-Gabon cooperation in green energy, services, health, and agriculture among other sectors. She suggested that India and Gabon should broad base their economic partnership and harness the complementarities in their economy to attract investments. “A lot more can be done together if we identify the core strengths and possible pathways for collaboration”, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar added.

After the business event, Shri Naidu was hosted by the Indian diaspora community at a reception organised on the occasion of his visit. Addressing the gathering, Shri Naidu expressed pleasure that a small but significant Indian diaspora have been making significant contribution in various fields in Gabon.

The Vice President observed that the 30- million strong Indian diaspora around the world have been playing a significant role in shaping India’s foreign policy. He said the success of the Indian community overseas has dramatically changed the world’s perception of Indians and India. He reiterated that India’s priority is to build “everlasting links with the Indian diaspora across globe, and create appropriate channels and mechanisms for these talented and resourceful minds to effectively contribute in shaping a New India”.

Shri Naidu expressed happiness that the community in Gabon has kept Indian culture alive and appreciated the fact that major Indian festivals are celebrated by entire community together. He asked them to respect local laws and customs at the same time preserving the age old Indian values of ‘share & care’ and respect for elders and nature.

Reflecting on his trip to Gabon, he said he greatly admired Gabonese people for their hardworking nature and their efforts to protect their country’s rich biodiversity. He recalled his interaction with the President and said that he had assured the President of Gabon that India will work with Gabon to impat skills to Gabonese youth. He also observed that there were immense possibilities for agricultural cooperation and transfer of knowledge in the farming sector from India to Gabon.

Shri Naidu recalled that the Indian government has announced setting up of 18 new missions in Africa with an aim to expand India’s diplomatic footprint in the continent. “This will certainly enhance our economic outreach in Africa and will be of immense value to Indian Industry interested in working in Africa”, he noted. He also called for a stronger India-Africa cooperation for making international governance more equitable, and to work together towards an expanded and inclusive UN Security Council.

In this visit, Shri Naidu is accompanied by Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri Sushil Kumar Modi, Member of Parliament, Shri Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Member of Parliament, and Shri P. Raveendranath, Member of Parliament, senior officials from Vice President Secretariat and the Ministry of External Affairs.

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