PM Modi to kick off 3-nation tour to strengthen ties with Africa today

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for a three-nation tour on Monday for an engagement that is seen as a reflection of the importance the current regime attaches to relations with countries in the African continent.

Modi will be in Rwanda on July 23-24, Uganda on July 24-25 and from 25 to 27 in South Africa, where he will attend the Brics summit of emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in Johannesburg.

The importance of Africa to India’s foreign policy can be gauged from the fact that there have been an unprecedented 23 outgoing visits to the continent in four years of this Modi government.

“Our engagement with Africa has clearly intensified. We had received more than 40 heads of State and government at the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015 and several more heads of state and government during the International Solar Alliance Founding Conference in March this year in New Delhi,” said TS Tirumurthi, secretary (economic relations) in the foreign ministry.

Modi’s visit to Rwanda will be historic — the first by an Indian Prime Minister the nation. India sees Rwanda as an important gateway to eastern Africa, and two countries formalised a a strategic partnership in January 2017. Rwanda is also the current Chair of the African Union, the third-largest troop contributor for peacekeeping in Africa, and plays an important role in the UN Mission (MINUSCA) in the Central African Republic.

Modi will be received in Rwanda by President Paul Kagame and a ceremonial welcome will be accorded on arrival, officials familiar with the planning of the trip said. Other elements of the programme include restricted and delegation-level talks, a banquet dinner hosted by President Kagame, paying homage at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, an interaction with the country’s business leaders and a brief interaction with the Indian community.

An important element of the programme will be the visit to Rweru model village, where India will gift200 cows as a contribution to the Girinka scheme, a social protection scheme overseen by President Kagame.

This will also be the first visit Modi to South Africa after new administration led by President Cyril Ramaphosa assumed office in February 2018. The year 2018 is significant because it marks the 125th anniversary of the Pietermaritzburg incident — wherein Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of a train compartment in 1893 because of his skin colour— and the 100th birth anniversary of Nelson Mandela.

As reported by HT earlier, Modi is set to meet Chinese president Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Brics summit.

The theme of this year’s Brics Summit revolves around an Africa outreach — “Collaboration with Developing Countries for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution.” The countries invited include Rwanda, Uganda, Togo, Zambia, Namibia, Senegal, Gabon, Ethiopia and Angola.

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