An official of the African Union [AU] says African heads of state and government have unanimously expressed support for stronger relations between the continental body and India.
Ambassador John Kayode Shinkaiye, Chief of Staff, Bureau of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said the continental body will continue to place high value on its future developmental partnership with India.
Shinkaiye’s comments follow a two-day Africa-India summit, which ended in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa Wednesday.
“We [AU] want to develop Africa not just individually, but regionally through bringing infrastructure that runs through many countries. And India is willing to support us on that,” said Shinkaiye.
This week’s Africa-India summit was the second between the two partners. India hosted the first summit in April 2008 in New Delhi.
Officials say the just ended summit focused on establishing a common framework for enhanced cooperation between India and Africa over the next few years. They say the strategic partnership will involve trade and the fight against terrorism and piracy.
Shinkaiye said India has pledged support to help with capacity building in a key area.
“India is willing to support us in our efforts to deal with our peace and security issues,” said Shinkaiye.
He said India also backs the AU’s drive to meet the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals.
“We think that we have a good partner in India. And at the continental level, our relationship is developing and this complements what is happening between India and the individual African countries,” said Shinkaiye.
Critics say India’s burgeoning investments across Africa mainly aims at gaining the continent’s “unwavering” support for its objective to attain a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. Shinkaiye disagrees.
“I believe there is a reciprocal support for each other,” Shinkaiye said.” It will be wrong to attribute India’s partnership with Africa solely on India’s desire to have Africa’s support.”
An official of India’s foreign ministry was quoted as saying “almost all African countries have backed India for a permanent seat.”
Last week, India backed Africa for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, ahead of the just ended summit in Ethiopia.