Waka Waka! This time in Africa: Manmohan Singh

By Arvind Padmanabhan, IANS
Thursday, November 11, 2010

SEOUL - Taking a cue perhaps from Shakira’s theme song at the 2010 World Cup Football, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday met with Ethiopian counterpart Meles Zenawi to discuss where and when India can hold its next conclave to connect with what New Delhi considers as the rising continent.

Waka, Waka, This time in Africa - seems to be the message Manmohan Singh sought to convey to Zenawi, with whom he had a 30-minute bilateral meeting on the margins of the G20 Summit here - the first official engagement the prime minister had here Thursday.

India hosted the first major conclave with what is often called the “dark Continent” in April 2008 that was attended by Zenawi - who is here on an invite as the chair of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

New Delhi is keen to host the next one in Africa 2011.

“The Ethiopian president even said India’s partnership with Africa is the new model of cooperation for Africa’s development,” India’s spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said briefing reporters on the Manmohan Singh-Zenawi meeting.

“Prime Minister Zenawi also referred to and thanked India for the various initiatives for Africa,” Prakash added, referring to the 46-year-old Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.

On India-Ethiopia ties, Prakash said Indian firms had already invested an impressive $4 billion in the east African country with some 500 domestic companies operating there.

“Last year alone Indian investments in Ethiopia amounted to around $1.5 billion,” said the official spokesperson, adding the areas included water management, energy, agriculture, irrigation and floriculture.

He said pacts had recently been signed for Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) at New Delhi and Kanpur to give its technical expertise to some 20 regional universities in Ethiopia.

“The prime minister also thanked the Ethiopian leader for the recent vote in favour of India for the non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council,” Prakash said.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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