Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said India's development priorities and Africa's lofty vision for its future are aligned, adding that both sides are two bright spots of hope and opportunities in the global economy.
Prime Minister Modi, who was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the third India-Africa Forum Summit, said India is honoured to be a development partner for Africa.
"It is a partnership beyond strategic concerns and economic benefits. It is formed from the emotional bonds we share and the solidarity we feel for each other.In less than a decade, our trade has more than doubled to over 70 billion dollars. India is now a major source of business investments in Africa. Today, 34 African countries enjoy duty free access to the Indian market.
African energy helps run the engine of the Indian economy; its resources are powering our industries; and, African prosperity offers growing market for Indian products," said Prime Minister Modi.
"India has committed 7.4 billion dollars in concessional credit and 1.2 billion dollars in grant since the first India-Africa Summit in 2008. It is creating 100 capacity building institutions, and developing infrastructure, public transport, clean energy, irrigation, agriculture and manufacturing capacity across Africa," he added.
He pointed out that nearly 25,000 young Africans have been trained and educated in India in the last three years and said that they are the 25,000 new links between us.
The Prime Minister said the fabric of this world is richer because of the 54 sovereign flags of Africa.
"Today, their brilliant colours have made Delhi the most special place in the world. To the 41 Heads of State and Government and the other eminent leaders; to the hundreds of senior officials, business leaders and journalists from Africa, I say this: we are deeply, deeply honoured by your presence today," said Prime Minister Modi.
"To our visitors from the land where history began, humanity grew and new hope rises; From the deserts of the north, where the glory of human civilization shines through the shifting sands of time; From the south, where the conscience of our age has been forged - from Mahatma Gandhi to Albert Luthuli to Nelson Mandela; From the shores of Atlantic that has been at history's tragic crossroads and now at the frontiers of many successes; From our neighbours on the resurgent east coast; From Africa's heart, where Nature is generous and culture is rich; And, from the sparkling gems of island states; a very warm embrace of welcome and friendship from India," he added.
Asserting that it is not just a meeting of India and Africa, Prime Minister Modi said the dreams of one-third of humanity have come together under one roof today.
"Today, the heart beat of 1.25 billion Indians and 1.25 billion Africans are in rhythm," he added.
Prime Minister Modi further said India and Africa are among the world's oldest civilisations.
"We are each a vibrant mosaic of languages, religions and cultures. Our histories have intersected since ages. Once united by geography, we are now linked by the Indian Ocean. The currents of the mighty ocean have nurtured the ties of kinship, commerce, and culture through centuries.
Generations of Indians and Africans have travelled to each other's land in search of their destiny or by the force of circumstances. Either way, we have enriched each other and strengthened our ties," said Prime Minister Modi.
"We have lived in the long shadow of colonialism. And, we have fought for our liberty and our dignity. We have struggled for opportunity, and also for justice, which, the African wisdom describes, is the prime condition of humanity. We have spoken in one voice in the world; and, we have formed a partnership for prosperity among ourselves. We have stood together under blue helmets to keep peace. And, we have fought together against hunger and disease. And, as we look to the future, there is something precious that unites us: it is our youth. Two-thirds of India and two-thirds of Africa is under the age of 35 years. And, if the future belongs to the youth, then this century is ours to shape and build," he added.
The Prime Minister emphasized that Africa's modern strides are catching the attention of the world.
"The continent is more settled and stable. African nations are coming together to take responsibility for their development, peace and security. African struggles and sacrifices are upholding democracy, combating extremism and empowering women. Women now constitute around 20 percent of the elected Members of Parliament in Africa," said Prime Minister Modi.
"To one who has played a role in that, President Sirleaf, I extend our best wishes on your birthday today," he added.
Prime Minister Modi further said Africa's economic growth has gathered momentum and has a more diversified base.
"African initiatives are replacing old fault lines with new bridges of regional economic integration. We see many successful examples of economic reforms, infrastructure development and sustainable use of resources. They are turning adrift economies into dynamic ones," Prime Minister Modi said.
"Four hundred thousand new businesses were registered in Africa in 2013; and, mobile telephone now reaches 95 percent of the population in many places," he added.
Prime Minister Modi said Africa is now joining the global mainstream of innovation.
"The mobile banking of M-Pesa, the healthcare innovation of MedAfrica, or the agriculture innovation of AgriManagr and Kilimo Salama, are using mobile and digital technology to transform lives in Africa. We see strong measures that are radically improving healthcare, education and agriculture. Primary school enrolment in Africa now exceeds 90 percent. And, across its magnificent landscape, Africa is setting standards in wildlife conservation and eco-tourism. Africa's sports, art and music delight the entire world," said Prime Minister Modi.
"Yes, Africa, like the rest of the developing world, has its development challenges. And, like others in the world, it has its own concerns of security and stability, especially from terrorism and extremism. But, I have confidence in African leadership and the African people to rise to those challenges," he added.