New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) The African Union, that represents 54 nations of the African continent, Thursday expressed its wish to have a long-term strategic partnership with India in science and technology (S&T), given India’s “remarkable progress” in this area in the last decade.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the first India-Africa science and technology ministers conference here, Jean Pierre O Ezin, Commissioner Human Resources, Science and Technology, African Union Commission, called for strengthening ties between India and Africa in sectors of research and development, human resource development and exchange of technical know-how.
The two-day conference at the Vigyan Bhavan convention centre is an effort to strengthen scientific and technological engagements with the African Union. Thirty-one African ministers and over 100 delegates are taking part in the event.
“There exists an enormous potential for cooperation in science and technology between India and Africa, given the fact that we both are emerging economies, share common problems and have to meet the aspirations of our people,” said Ezin.
“I am confident that we can create a longterm strategic partnership in transfer of technical know-how as India has made a remarkable progress in science and technology in past 10 years,” he said.
The foundation of cooperation in science and technology was laid during the India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi in 2008. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced substantive commitments of India to engage with African nations during the second summit in Addis Ababa in 2011.
Explaining about the initiative, India’s Science and Technology Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said: “The aim is to proactively develop S&T linkages with institutions in African nations and to enhance capacity building and development of human resources in research and development.”
India has committed $5 billion in lines of credit for the next three years to help Africa to achieve its development goals. An additional $700 million was pledged to establish new institutions and training programmes. Of this, $185 million is in the field of science and technology.
Nadia Eskander Zakhary, chair of the African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology (AMCOST) sought India’s support in building human resource in the science and technology sector.
“I call upon India to support and invest in science and technology for the sake of future of our generations,” said Zakhary, who is the Egypt’s minister of scientific research.
There will be sessions on science and technology programmes and policies in India and Africa Union and round table sessions to discuss issues like capacity building in science and technology, knowledge transfer and adoption, research areas of mutual interest and using science for development.
Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said that India has always had a special solidarity with Africa and both sides are looking forward to implementing decisions taken during the two India-Africa Forum Summits.