President of India Visits African Countries

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The President of India Ram Nath Kovind paid official visit to two African countries – Djibouti and Ethiopia.

The Prime Minister of Djibouti, Mr. Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed received the President at Ambouli International Airport. The two leaders then engaged in a short round of talks on bilateral relations and themes of common interest to both countries.

This is President Kovind’s first overseas visit after assuming office. It is also the first visit to Djibouti by an Indian Head of State or Head of Government.

Djibouti is a strategically located country, just off the Gulf of Aden. It is an important Indian Ocean partner country for India. During the Yemeni crisis of 2015, Djibouti was supportive of Indian efforts to evacuate Indian citizens, and those of other countries, as part of Operation Rahat, and offered use of an air strip.

President of India was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Palace in Djibouti.

The President also led delegation level talks with his counterpart. An agreement to establish regular political consultations between India and Djibouti, at the level of the Foreign Office, was signed in the presence of the two Presidents.

During wide-ranging talks with his Djiboutian counterpart, President Kovind – the first Indian President to visit Djibouti – made specific reference to areas of common concern and interest such as terrorism; renewable energy and particularly Djibouti’s support for membership of the International Solar Alliance; maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region; and technical and capacity building assistance by India to enhance employment opportunities for Djibouti’s young people.

President Kovind specifically thanked President Guelleh for Djibouti’s support during Operation Rahat, undertaken by India in 2015 to evacuate its citizens from conflict-hit Yemen.

President Kovind left for Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, on the second leg of his two-country visit to Africa.

In Addis Ababa, Dr Mulatu Teshome, the President of Ethiopia, made a special gesture in being present at the Bole International Airport to receive President Kovind. Subsequently, the President was accorded a Guard of Honour and witnessed an Ethiopian cultural music performance.

President Kovind is the first Indian President to visit Ethiopia in 45 years and the third overall. President V.V. Giri (1972) and President S. Radhakrishnan (1965) had previously travelled to Ethiopia.

The President addressed the India-Ethiopia Business Dialogue, organised to commemorate the 12th Anniversary of the India Business Forum in Addis Ababa.

India is now among the top three foreign investors in Ethiopia. Indian investment has made a mark in textiles and garments, engineering, plastics, water management, consultancy and ICT, education, pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

Indian investments in Ethiopia have had a significant presence in manufacturing and value addition to local resources. They have created jobs in this country and contributed to the prosperity of Ethiopian families. He congratulated the Indian Business Forum for playing a lead role in encouraging Indian investment and promoting trade and commerce between India and Ethiopia.

India’s relationship with Ethiopia is symbolic of its engagement with the African continent, of which Addis Ababa is such a vital hub. At the Third India Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in 2015, India had announced the offer of concessional credit of US$ 10 billion over the next five years to Africa. This was in addition to the on-going credit programme.

India also committed to a grant assistance of US$ 600 million that will include an India-Africa Development Fund of US$ 100 million and an India-Africa Health Fund of US$ 10 million. The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor is another initiative brimming with potential.

President visited the Presidential Palace in Addis Ababa and led delegation-level talks with his counterpart, President Mulatu Teshome. The talks covered a gamut of developmental and trade themes.

President Kovind mentioned India’s willingness to positively consider support for power transmission projects in Ethiopia, as well as announced specific assistance in the areas of healthcare, education and agriculture.

The two Presidents witnessed the signing of two bilateral agreements – the first on Trade Facilitation and the second related to the Information Communication and Media sector.

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