President Ram Nath Kovind will visit Ethiopia and Djibouti as part of his maiden foreign trip in the first week of October. At a time when India is trying to establish its presence in Africa, Kovind's visit acquires special significance. It's also likely to be a response to China's attempts at making inroads into the continent.
Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa is the seat of the African Union, and is also home to over 540 Indian firms, as mentioned in a report on Hindustan Times. The report added that details of the president's trip are still being worked out, but apart from bilateral meetings, Kovind is expected to take part in events that highlight the special relationship between India and these two countries. Indian ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti Anurag Srivastava had met with Kovind in August.
The report also mentioned that following China's new military base in Djibouti, concerns have been raised in India about Beijing's long-term interests in the continent. Kovind's visit, it was reported, is likely to address these concerns.
Another report in The Economic Times also connected Kovind's trip to Africa with China's designs on the continent. Sanjay Pulipaka, an expert on Africa and consultant with ICRIER, was quoted as saying in the report that joining hands with China is politically advantageous for several reasons.
"In Africa, as in other parts of the world, China has an ability to deploy substantive capital and implement infrastructure projects expeditiously. For some of the African countries, which experience political instability, economic engagement with China comes with certain political advantages," Pulipaka was quoted as saying.
"On the other hand, India enjoys a different set of advantages with Africa. Strong historical connections with some countries, the English language, and the presence of diaspora constitute important pillars on which robust engagements can be constructed. India also has an ability to deploy capacity building activities that will in the long-run contribute to state-building in African countries," he added.
The Narendra Modi government has been targeting an aggressive expansion in Africa for the last two years. The third Indo-African summit took place in New Delhi in 2015, and saw the participation of more than 40 heads of governments from Africa.
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Updated Date: Sep 28, 2017 21:14:18 IST