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Gujarat gave us Gandhi, Africa gave us the Mahatma: Sushma Swaraj

Reiterates govt's focus on the continent for enhanced growth, biz dvpt

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Gujarat gave us Gandhi, Africa gave us the Mahatma: Sushma Swaraj
Sushma Swaraj and Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani seen at the event on Saturday
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Indian and African leaders touched upon their shared economic and cultural heritage at the Africa Day event held at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2019 on Saturday.

Fifty of the 54 countries from the continent were present as part of the Africa Day event including Liberia, a first-time invitee to Vibrant Gujarat.

The event was attended by Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj who also signed a tripartite MoU with MEA, GSFC and the government of Congo for an ammonia-urea production project in the latter.

Swaraj in her address reminded of the several shared connections including Gandhiji. "Gujarat gave us Gandhi, Africa gave us the Mahatma, "Swaraj said.

She added that it was for the first time that Africa Day was being held as part of Vibrant Gujarat. "It is also the first time that we are dedicating a day to an entire continent. It shows the enhanced importance we attach to the economy of the continent," Swaraj said.

She reiterated that India's investment in Africa is guided by African priorities. "When we became independent we soon realised that external assistance comes with conditions both overt and covert. Learning from this, our involvement in Africa has been based on principles of equality. We have been looking at Africa-owned-developments," Swaraj further said.

She said that it was part of this new involvement with the continent that India has decided to open 18 new embassies and high commissions in Africa which will take the total number to 47. "India is the fifth largest investor in Africa with an investment of $54bn in various sectors including telecom, hydrocarbon, education, and agriculture. At present, 189 projects are being implemented by India across 42 countries in Africa."

Later, at a press conference, SJ Haider, Principal Secretary, Tourism, Gujarat, said that in a first, they also had exclusive meetings with exporters from the state to Africa to know about the bottlenecks they face. Similar exercises were held with exporters from Africa too, he added.

"The exports from Gujarat alone to Africa is around $19.6bn. In all, we are looking at 18 MOUs in various sectors but, the final figures will only be available at the end of the summit," Haider said. He added that a meeting with various government representatives of African nations were also held to know how these bottlenecks can be removed.

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