Rabat –Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari will visit Morocco and Senegal next month, ending a period of more than two decades during which no top Indian leader visited any country in the continent of Africa.
Ansari visit to the two countries in mid-April will build on diplomatic gains from the India-Africa summit that was held last October, three officials told The Telegraph, an Indian news source. The New Delhi summit – of which Morocco’s King Mohammed VI was the first major confirmed guest – was the largest political conference in modern history connecting Indian and African leaders.
After the summit was announced last year, Indian President Narendra Modi called India’s partnership with Africa “natural” because the two region’s destinies “inter-linked.” Modi also admitted that his New Delhi government had not been proactive in developing relations with the continent, despite their openness to do so.
Since Modi took office in May 2014, his new administration has sent over ministers to Africa to maintain relations, however, no Prime Minister, President, or Vice-President of India has visited the continent since former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to Morocco in 1999.
King Mohammed VI has visited India a few times during his reign, most recently in 2003.
The diplomatic drought is worse in Senegal; no official more senior than a minister has ever visited the West African country.
“This is long due, and it would be a great boost for India’s diplomacy in the region,” said Ruchita Beri, an Africa specialist at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses. “There haven’t been many visits to Africa in recent years, and India needs this.”
Data shows India’s trade and investment strategy in Africa is not politically diverse or well developed. The sub-continent’s total volume of trade with the African continent stands at less than one-third of its trade with just China while 95 percent of private investments from India in Africa are made in Mauritius, chiefly to avoid domestic taxes.
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