About Us Prime Minister’s Visit

The Prime Minister’s Statement to Media following his meeting with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia

His Excellency Prime Minister Meles Zenawi,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media,

Thank you Mr. Prime Minister for your warm words of welcome.

This is my first visit to Ethiopia and I am delighted to be in this beautiful country, which is also the diplomatic capital of Africa. I feel extremely privileged to be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Ethiopia.

I wish to convey my sincere appreciation to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the people of Ethiopia for the warm welcome given to me and for the excellent arrangements that have been made for our stay.

We have earlier today concluded a very successful Africa India Forum Summit. I wish to place on record our most grateful thanks to Prime Minister Zenawi for agreeing to host the Summit in Addis Ababa. Thank you very much Mr. Prime Minister.

A short while ago we concluded very productive discussions on our bilateral relations with Ethiopia. As you know, India and Ethiopia have enjoyed historically close links. Ethiopia is an influential member of the world community. Its voice is heard with great respect in Africa. Ethiopia’s economic performance, political stability and democratic polity are examples worthy of emulation by other developing countries.

We are very satisfied with the progress in our relations in recent years. Our talks today have laid a solid foundation for closer political understanding and deepening of our economic exchanges in the coming years.

We have decided to enhance our cooperation in a number of areas. They include sectors such as science & technology, agricultural research, education and information technology. We have concluded agreements in the area of taxation and small and medium enterprises, which will bring benefits to business communities on both sides.

India has tried to assist in Ethiopia’s development through capacity building support and offers of lines of credit of more than 700 million US dollars during the last five years. We will further enhance scholarships, training programmes and slots under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme for Ethiopia.

I conveyed to the Prime Minister our decision to extend an additional line of credit of 300 million US dollars for a regional integration project as committed to the African Union for a new Ethiopia-Djibouti railway.

We also exchanged views on regional and global issues of common interest. Piracy has emerged as a major threat to international trade and commerce. We would like to coordinate our actions closely with Ethiopia to combat this threat.

We discussed the situation in Africa, the challenges facing this great continent and the importance of India and Ethiopia working together for a better life for our people.

Prime Minister Zenawi was appreciative of our engagement and partnership with Africa under the platform of the Africa India Forum Summit. This is indeed a unique initiative which will benefit both India and Africa. Our relations with Ethiopia serve as a model for this broader partnership.

My visit to Ethiopia has laid a solid foundation for building a closer partnership between our two countries. I look forward to continuing my dialogue with the Prime Minister, for which I have invited him to visit India.

I eagerly look forward to the honour and opportunity of addressing the Members of the Ethiopian Parliament tomorrow.

Thank you.

Addis Ababa
May 25, 2011

Address by the Prime Minister at the Joint Session of the two Houses of the Parliament of Ethiopia.

I am deeply honoured to be given this opportunity to address the Joint Session of both Houses of the Parliament of Ethiopia.

I feel privileged to be the first Prime Minister of India to visit this great country.

For me, this is a voyage of friendship and solidarity. I bring to you warm and friendly greetings from a fellow democracy – a democracy that, like yours, faces the challenges of development and a democracy that, like yours, treasures diversity and federalism.

I am conscious that when one visits Ethiopia one visits the cradle of humankind. It is strategically located in the Horn of Africa and is the gateway to East Africa. It is a land of great natural beauty which was home to the most ancient kingdom in Africa.

Honourable Members,

India and Ethiopia are no strangers to each other.

Many millennia ago, Africa and India were joined as one landmass. Today we are separated by the waters of the Indian Ocean but our connections are deep and they have brought in their wake rich and varied exchanges in the ebb and flow of history.

Indian traders flocked to the ancient port of Adulis, trading silk and spices for gold and ivory. A sizeable Indian community consisting of merchants and artisans came and settled in this ancient land in the latter part of the 19th century.

There was movement in the other direction too. Thousands of people of Ethiopian origin have settled as an integral part of Indian society along the West Coast of India. The fort of Murud Janjira in the State of Maharashtra stands as a symbol of African influence in India.

These exchanges have produced remarkable and often overlooked similarities in our traditions and cultures.

The Siddis of African descent living in India have created a fusion of Indian and African styles of music that thrives today. The tradition in southern India of using fermented flour for making Dosa is similar to the Injara in Ethiopia. The sight of women with heads covered and men wearing turbans is strikingly common in Ethiopian and Indian villages. Hospitality in humble village homes begins with simple offerings, and guests are treated as incarnations of the gods.

Honourable Members,

Unlike large parts of Asia and Africa, Ethiopia never suffered the humiliation and trauma of colonization. Yet, when Abyssinia was invaded in 1935, it deeply affected Jawaharlal Nehru, and he led India in offering sympathy to the people of Ethiopia. In his appeal to the people of India to observe Abyssinia Day in 1936 he said and I quote:

“We in India can do nothing to help our brethren in distress in Ethiopia for we also are victims of imperialism. But we can at least send them sympathy in the hour of their trial. We stand with them today in their sorrow as we hope to stand together when better days come.

Honourable Members,

I believe the better days that Jawaharlal Nehru spoke of have come.

Ethiopia has overcome many adversities to become one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Ethiopia is a magnet for foreign investment.

Its economic performance and political stability are the fruit of the hard working people of Ethiopia and a tribute to the progressive leadership of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The voice of Ethiopia is heard with respect. Addis Ababa, the new flower, has become the diplomatic capital of Africa. It is the Headquarters of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

I heartily congratulate the people of Ethiopia on their splendid achievements.

Honourable Members,

Relations between India and Ethiopia have expanded impressively in the last few decades. We attach high importance to our relations with Ethiopia.

Our development and economic partnership is progressing well.

Education and capacity building are high priorities for both our countries.

The Pan-African e-Network project in Ethiopia implemented by India has connected Addis Ababa University with the Indira Gandhi National Open University.

We have agreed to the early establishment of a Vocational Training Centre in Ethiopia.

In the infrastructure sector, India has assisted in a rural electrification programme in Southern Ethiopia which has brought benefit to hundreds of thousands of people in rural Ethiopia.

India has provided a line of credit of 640 million US dollars for the development of Ethiopia’s sugar industry.

We will support the new Ethio-Djibouti Railway project to promote regional integration. We have decided to extend a line of credit of 300 million US dollars for this important project.

India is one of the largest foreign investors in Ethiopia. More than 450 Indian companies have committed upwards of 4 billion US dollars in investment in Ethiopia.

Our bilateral trade is on course to reach the target of 1 billion US dollars by 2015.

Our political ties are close. Indian troops were part of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea to secure peace and security. Military training is a valued area of our cooperation.

The decisions Prime Minister Zenawi and I took in the course of our discussions yesterday will strengthen our partnership even further.

Honourable Members,

Going forward, our bilateral cooperation should help to make a difference to the real problems affecting the common man.

India and Ethiopia must work to address the challenges of food security, energy security, health security, sustainable development and climate change. We have to learn to solve our own problems by collaborating with each other.

Our farming communities and scientists should collaborate to usher in a second Green Revolution. This is the lasting solution to the scourge of hunger that afflicts millions in both our countries.

Providing affordable health care to our people, particularly in rural areas, is another major challenge. Indian pharmaceutical companies are known for providing cheap and good quality generic drugs. I am happy they have begun to invest in Ethiopia.

We have to be conscious of our environment and ensure the judicious management of our natural resources. We should protect our rich biodiversity and traditional knowledge.

It is essential for rich countries to share the financial burden of combating climate change, participate in research and development and promote the transfer of technology to ensure green growth. Prime Minister Zenawi has made an invaluable contribution to these issues as co-chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing.

Honourable Members,

India owes a debt of deep gratitude to Africa for it was here that Mahatma Gandhi experienced his political and spiritual awakening. It was in Africa that he first experimented with the philosophy of non-violence and passive resistance or satyagraha that shook the colonial powers of that time.

The struggles for freedom in India and Africa and the collaboration of our leaders were glorious chapters in our history. After we attained freedom, we worked shoulder to shoulder to fight apartheid and strengthen the Non-aligned Movement and the United Nations. India supported liberation movements such as the African National Congress and South West Africa People’s Organisation. We fought to build a just, equitable and democratic international order.

This is the legacy of friendship that we have inherited from our forefathers. Our empathy with our African brothers and sisters is of long standing and comes from our hearts and minds.

Honourable Members,

The world has changed. Globalisation is a reality today. Our people have rising expectations. Africa is responding to these challenges and discovering its rich potential. The world is reaching out to Africa and seeing it as a new growth pole in the world economy.

India sees Africa as a natural partner in our growing engagement with the world.

India and Africa have to work together to make global interdependence work for the benefit of all people and particularly for the millions who live in the developing world. This is our next project.

We must work towards market access for some of the poorest commodity producers in Africa. Vulnerable sections of our peasantry need to be protected from the vagaries of the international marketplace. It is imperative that the development dimension of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations is not diluted.

Prices of many agricultural commodities remain volatile. The problem is made worse by speculation. The G-20 countries have taken the initiative of supporting work on regulation and supervision of commodity derivative markets. This is an area where India and Ethiopia have vital interests and should cooperate with each other.

The Second India-Africa Forum Summit which concluded yesterday here in Addis Ababa under the theme “Enhanced Partnership: Shared Vision” has opened a new era in India-Africa relations.

Our development cooperation with Africa is based on the principles of mutual equality and mutual benefit. We want the participation of as many of our African brothers and sisters as possible in our aid and economic cooperation programmes. Local employment generation and capacity development are the pillars of our development cooperation.

African students find a welcome home in India. The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme has enabled the training of thousands of African youth in industrial training institutes, medical colleges, engineering colleges and in fields such as business administration, agriculture and legal services.

We have decided to increase scholarships and training slots for Africa. Their total number will stand at over 22,000 during the next three years.

The development of infrastructure in Africa is a priority and an area where Indian technology is very appropriate.

We will offer 5 billion US dollars for the next three years under lines of credit to help achieve the development goals of Africa. We will offer an additional 700 million US dollars to establish new institutions and training programmes in consultation with the African Union and its institutions.

Honourable Members,

India and Ethiopia are pluralistic and diverse societies. We share the belief that democracy and respect for the free will of the people are the only durable basis to find solutions to our problems.

We believe that similar principles should be applied in the conduct of international governance.

The Horn of Africa is today faced with threats from piracy and terrorism. International piracy in the Red Sea and off the coast of Somalia has become a well organized industry. It is important that the United Nations takes the lead in developing a comprehensive and effective response to this threat. Simultaneously, the international community should continue with efforts to restore stability in Somalia.

As a littoral State of the Indian Ocean, India is ready to work with Ethiopia and other African countries in this regard. We would all like the Indian Ocean to remain a secure link between Asia and Africa through which international maritime trade can take place unhindered.

Honourable Members,

The winds of change are blowing in West Asia and North Africa. We believe it is the right of all peoples to determine their own destiny and choose their own path of development. International actions must be based on the rule of law and be strictly within the framework of United Nations Resolutions. We support the efforts of the African Union in bringing peace and stability to the region.

The birth of a new nation in a few weeks time in South Sudan will be a historic event. We hope it will contribute to peace and reconciliation among the people of Sudan.

The changing world order calls for corresponding changes in the structure of institutions of global governance, whether these are international financial institutions or the international monetary system or the United Nations Security Council. These are issues which have to be tackled and resolved. We are grateful to Ethiopia for its strong support to India’s permanent membership in an expanded Security Council and look forward to our continuing cooperation with Ethiopia on these issues.

Honourable Members,

Ethiopia is one of most stable and progressive states in Africa. The engine of African growth is being driven by economic dynamism in countries like Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has the credentials to shape a new vision for Africa’s prosperity and development. I call upon you, the parliamentarians and people of Ethiopia, to take a lead in this process. The people of India will stand with you every step of the way.

Our economies have been doing well in recent years. Let us cooperate with each other so that we can reinforce and build upon our successes and achievements.

Honourable Members,

In conclusion, let me say once again how fortunate I feel to have visited your beautiful country. I feel a sense of deep personal fulfillment to see the coming together of our two brotherly nations.

You have honoured me and the people of India today for which I am indebted to you.

I wish Ethiopia greater peace, prosperity and happiness in the years ahead. May your dreams come true.

I thank you all.

Addis Ababa
May 26, 2011

Address by the Prime Minister at the Plenary Session of the 2nd Africa-India Forum Summit

Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Distinguished Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Distinguished Ministers,
Distinguished representatives of the Regional Economic Communities and NEPAD,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am delighted to be here today in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia and the Headquarters of the African Union.

2. I bring to Africa fraternal greetings from the people of India.

3. This is a historic gathering. It is the first time that the leaders of India and Africa are meeting on such a scale on African soil.

4. I would specially like to greet those leaders who are participating in the Africa India Forum Summit process for the first time and were not with us in New Delhi in 2008.

5. The India-Africa partnership is unique and owes its origins to history and our common struggle against colonialism, apartheid, poverty, disease, illiteracy and hunger.

6. India will never forget Africa’s role in inspiring our own struggle for national liberation. It was here that Mahatma Gandhi developed his political philosophy and developed the concepts of non-violence and peaceful resistance.

7. At the first India-Africa Forum Summit in 2008 in New Delhi we decided to make a new beginning. We drew courage from our togetherness and inspiration from our conviction that a robust and contemporary India-Africa partnership is an idea whose time has come.

8. Our officials and Ministers have worked hard for our second Summit in Ethiopia. Many events involving a wide cross-section of society, include trade and business, have been held. These events have contributed to making the second Africa-India Forum Summit a people’s movement.

9. I believe we have reason to be satisfied with what we have achieved since 2008. But our people expect much more and we have to work hard to deliver on these expectations.

10. The current international economic and political situation is far from favourable, particularly for developing countries. Even as the global economy is recovering from the economic crisis, fresh political upheavals are taking place. The world faces new challenges in assuring food and energy security. Global institutions of governance are outmoded and under stress.

11. We therefore need a new spirit of solidarity among developing countries. We must recognise that in this globalised age we all live interconnected lives in a small and fragile planet. We must work together to uplift the lives of our people in a manner that preserves the sustainability of our common air, land and water.

12. There is a new economic growth story emerging from Africa. Africa possesses all the prerequisites to become a major growth pole of the world. There is good news in the struggle against HIV and AIDS, as well as in improving literacy, reducing infant mortality and building institutions of representative government.

13. India will work with Africa to realise its vast potential. We believe that a new vision is required for Africa’s development and participation in global affairs. We do not have all the answers but we have some experience in nation building which we are happy to share with our African brothers and sisters.

14. It is in this spirit that I wish to outline some initiatives for the consideration of our African partners. These will enhance our development partnership which are founded on the pillars of mutual equality and common benefit.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

15. We will offer 5 billion US dollars for the next three years under lines of credit to help Africa achieve its development goals. We will offer an additional 700 million US dollars to establish new institutions and training programmes in consultation with the African Union and its institutions.

16. Under the lines of credit that we offered at the first Summit, we had specifically looked at promoting regional integration through infrastructure development. On the advice of the African Union, I am happy to announce that we would support the development of a new Ethio-Djibouti Railway line to the tune of 300 million US dollars.

17. Following the success of the Pan-African E-Network Project we propose to take the next step and establish an India-Africa Virtual University. This we hope will help to meet some of the demand in Africa for higher studies in Indian institutions. We further propose that 10,000 new scholarships under this proposed University will be available for African students after its establishment.

18. We would like to make education in India an enriching experience for each student who comes from Africa. We are substantially raising the number of scholarships and training slots for African students and experts, including under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme. Our total commitment for the next three years by way of scholarships to Africa students will stand at more than 22,000.

19. At the first Summit in 2008, we had focused on capacity building in the human resource development sector. We believe it would be logical to consolidate this approach. I wish to propose the establishment of the following new institutions at the pan African level :

An India-Africa Food Processing Cluster – This would contribute to value-addition and the creation of regional and export markets;

An India-Africa Integrated Textiles Cluster – This will support the cotton industry and its processing and conversion into high value products;

An India-Africa Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting – This will harness satellite technology for the agriculture and fisheries sectors as well as contribute towards disaster preparedness and management of natural resources;

We have received a request to support the establishment of an India-Africa University for Life and Earth Sciences. We would be happy to support this important venture; and finally,

An India-Africa Institute of Agriculture and Rural Development.

20. One of the biggest gaps in our interaction is that of insufficient air connectivity. We should accord this high priority. To begin with, India would be happy to increase the access of African airlines to Indian cities in a significant manner over the next three years.

21. Africa has strong regional organisations which play an important role in supporting development activities. We will therefore work with Regional Economic Communities to establish at the regional level, Soil, Water and Tissue Testing Laboratories, Regional Farm Science Centres, Seed Production-cum-Demonstration Centres, and Material Testing Laboratories for Highways.

22. At the bilateral level, we propose to establish institutes for English language training, information technology, entrepreneurship development and vocational training. As part of our new initiatives in the social and economic sectors we will establish Rural Technology Parks, Food Testing Laboratories, Food Processing Business Incubation Centres and Centres on Geo-Informatics Applications and Rural Development.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

23. We should encourage trade and investment flows as well as transfer of technology. The private sectors should be fully involved in the efforts to integrate our economies. I propose that we establish an India-Africa Business Council which will bring together business leaders from both sides.

24. India has consistently supported the development of African capacities in the maintenance of peace and security. As a token of our commitment to supporting Africa’s endeavours for seeking African solutions I am happy to announce that India will contribute 2 million US dollars for the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

25. Today, the people of Africa and India stand at the threshold of a historic opportunity. Our nations span the diversity of the human condition. We account for the whole range of linguistic, religious and ethnic diversity in the world. Our success in making open, tolerant and rule based societies flourish in conditions of relative underdevelopment will have a profound effect on the future of the world.

26. Tomorrow the people of Africa will celebrate Africa Day. I am delighted to be present in Africa on this very auspicious occasion, and extend my heartiest congratulations to this great Continent.

27. In conclusion I wish to convey my deepest gratitude to the people and government of Ethiopia for hosting us in this beautiful city. I also thank the African Union Commission for the excellent arrangements made for the Summit.

I thank you.

Addis Ababa
May 24, 2011

Address by the Prime Minister at the Indian Community Function in Addis Ababa

Shri Bhagwant Bishnoi, Ambassador of India, and Shrimati Bishnoi,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a great privilege for me to meet the members of the Indian community in Ethiopia.

Indian merchants and artisans came to this country as far back as the 19th century. They made a home here and with painstaking effort built for themselves a respected place in Ethiopian society.

I was very proud to hear that many Ethiopians have high regard for the Indian teachers who taught them. I am told that even today Ethiopian universities are keen to recruit Indian professors.

I see this spirit of selfless and dedicated service among all Indian communities I meet during my visits abroad. While retaining and carrying forward the high values, strong family traditions and work ethic of their motherland, they adapt very well in their adopted homes. They are pillars of their communities and a source of pride and achievement for Indians everywhere.

I have been in Addis Ababa for the last three days. My visit to Ethiopia has been a most rewarding experience. I have been struck by the extraordinary goodwill, love and affection for India in this country. We are indeed fortunate to have friends like the people of Ethiopia.

I have come to Africa with a message of friendship and solidarity from India. I conveyed to the African leaders how much importance the people and government of India attach to reviving our historic relations with this great continent.

We concluded the second Africa India Forum Summit yesterday. Together with leaders from across the continent of Africa, we set out an ambitious road map to comprehensively expand the India-Africa partnership.

Indian communities in Africa have an important role to play in renewing and strengthening relations between India and Africa. The rise of India and Africa is opening new opportunities for collaboration. There is much that we can do together to increase each others’ welfare and prosperity.

I have held detailed discussions on our bilateral relations with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia His Excellency Mr. Meles Zenawi. We agreed that there is vast untapped potential in developing our bilateral relations. Prime Minister Zenawi is a strong advocate of a robust and diversified relationship between India and Ethiopia. Today India is on a path of high economic growth. There is confidence and hope among our youth and a desire for change. A new India is rising fast as a fast growing, democratic and pluralistic society. These are features we share with Ethiopia.

In recent years, Ethiopia’s economic performance, political stability and democratic polity have attracted the attention of the international community. Ethiopia’s voice is heard with increasing respect because of these achievements.

I am confident that my visit will open a new chapter of multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries.

In recent times, the flow of Indian investments in Ethiopia has grown. I am told that over 450 Indian companies have invested in Ethiopia with total committed investment of more than 4 billion US dollars.

I would urge the Indian business community to set high standards of professional conduct in this country. Businesses that seek a long term presence here should work hard to earn the support and goodwill of local communities. They should aim to be model corporate citizens.

Your contribution to the economic development of Ethiopia is highly appreciated. I would like you to know that your motherland recognises the value of this contribution and your hard work.

The welfare, safety and well-being of Indian citizens will always receive our close attention. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has been working hard to strengthen links of our overseas communities with India and to harness their knowledge, skills and resources.

I am happy to announce that we will shortly set an Indian Community Welfare Fund for Indian citizens in distress in Ethiopia.

I thank you all for coming here today. I wish you and your families the best of health and happiness.

Thank you.

Addis Ababa
May 26, 2011