The Ministry of External Affairs has said that Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu’s visit to Senegal would have a special significance as Senegal is the chair of the African Union.
“Senegal is the chair of the African Union. So the visit actually assumes even greater importance in that context,” Dammu Ravi, Secretary ER in the Ministry of External Affairs told reporters here.
Vice President Mr Naidu will be on a three-nation tour to Gabon, Senegal and Qatar from May 30 to June 7.
He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dr. Bharati Pawar and three Members of Parliament, Sushil Kumar Modi, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar and P. Raveendranath.
Secretary, ER, Dammu Ravi said – Africa is always at the top of India’s diplomatic agenda, “….clearly with the guidance and direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Africa is continuing to be a priority continent for us”.
He said, “The focus in terms of the visit to the region is the West African region which is the francophone countries. So both Gabon and Senegal, are francophone countries, so India’s engagement with Africa is enhanced. Since 2015, when we did the India-Africa Forum Summit, the number of visits have enhanced. In fact since 2014, there have been 34 visits from our side and 100 incoming visits”.
“So that actually characterizes the relationship, the prioritization from our side,” he said.
On visit to Gabon, the Secretary said this is first such high level visit from India but Gabon President Ali Bongo has visited India in 2015 for the India-Africa Forum Summit, and then subsequently for the International Solar Alliance in 2018.
“…an important aspect of our relationship with Gabon is that both of us are in the UN Security Council Non-Permanent Membership capacity. So in that sense, we have a very close interaction even in the multilateral fora,” he said.
In the last four years, the trade has gone up $450, $440 million to $1.12 billion, which is “more than doubled”.
Also, a significant number of Indian companies – 54 of them – are operating in Gabon.
During the first leg of his visit to Gabon from May 30 to the 1st of June, the Vice President will hold delegation-level talks with Prime Minister of Gabon, Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda.
He will also interact with the business community in Gabon and address the Indian diaspora.
Secretary (CPV & OIA) Ausaf Sayeed briefing media about the visit to Qatar said among other agenda, Vice President will be hosted at Doha by his counterpart Deputy Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Thani.
Both the dignitaries will hold official delegation level talks, during which they will review the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation and regional and global issues of mutual interest.
Vice President Mr Naidu would also be addressing the members of the vibrant Indian diaspora in Qatar during a community reception.
“Qatar is home to over 750,000 Indians who are contributing meaningfully to the socio economic development of Qatar,” he said, adding there will also be a cultural event organized as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
The Vice President would also address India-Qatar business round table, which would include members of the Indian business delegation comprising of members from CII, FICCI and other groups, as well as members of the local chambers of commerce, Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Qatar Businessmen Association and so on.
Mr Naidu is expected to also launch the India-Qatar startup bridge to link the ecosystems of the two countries.
“You are aware that Qatar is a very valued partner for India in our extended neighbourhood in the Gulf region. The modern relationship between India and Qatar is anchored in the historical and traditional exchanges between the people of the two countries. It is anchored under four pillars of energy partnership, Indian diaspora, trade and investment and defence and security,” he said.