In the largest-ever turnout of African leaders in India, at least 41 leaders — including South African President Jacob Zuma, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari — have confirmed their presence in New Delhi for the India-Africa Forum summit on October 29-30, top government sources told The Indian Express.
“Of the 54 African countries, we are expecting participation from all of them which will include presence of leaders and ministers from 52 of them,” a source said. This makes it the highest attendance, surpassing China, US and Japan which have held African leaders’ summits in the past. While China ensured attendance of 48 countries (including 40 leaders) in 2006, the US hosted 50 countries (including 47 leaders) in 2014 and Japan had 49 countries (including 37 leaders) in 2013.
A formal announcement of their presence is expected to be made on Friday by India’s lead interlocutor, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Navtej Sarna. The summit will witness an elevated partnership between India and the African countries and will aim to tap opportunities and expand two-way engagement in varied sectors.
Ministerial and senior official-level meetings will be held in the run up to the summit. On October 26, India will host top officials of the African nations while on October 27, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will host her African counterparts and ministers. The summit meeting will be held on October 29 in which heads of state and government will participate. Bilateral meetings have been scheduled for October 30. This is the biggest diplomatic event to be hosted by India in the last three decades.
About 2,000 people, including 1,000 delegates are expected to descend on Delhi for the event. The influential African Union will also participate in the event. UAE and Singapore are the two countries which have been called as special invitees.
Boosting trade, enhancing security cooperation to combat threat of terrorism and exploring ways to deal with scourge of poverty, disease, illiteracy and hunger will be the major focus areas.
India has had a cordial relationship with African nations with most of them supporting New Delhi’s efforts to become a permanent member in an expanded UN Security Council.