Gandhinagar, Jan 19: India on Saturday said strong ties with Africa -- one the world's fastest growing region-- will go a long way in redefining the international order on more egalitarian lines and countering terrorism would remain as an important element of its engagement with the continent.
"Strong India-Africa relations will go a long way in redefining the contours of the international order on more egalitarian lines," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said during "Africa Day" celebrations at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.
"We should not expect anything less from this shining example of South-South cooperation."
Articulating India's Africa policy, Swaraj said Africa today figures prominently on the foreign policy radar of India and the relations have not just remained confined to political arena but have blossomed into a multi-faceted association where each one of us contributes something of significant value.
She said one of the most serious challenges toward international peace and security is the menace of terrorism.
"Many of the African countries like India are victims of terrorism. Consequently, preserving peace and security, countering terrorism and extremism is an important element of our engagement."
Over the years, India and many African countries have had close security and defence relations.
The Africa Day celebrations comes days before the visit of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to New Delhi this month. Ramaphosa will be the chief guest at the Republic Day and during the visit both sides are expected to boost relations in a wide range of areas such as defence and the social sector.
Prime Minister Modi has earlier declared Africa as top priority in India's foreign and economic policy.
Referring to the growing development partnership, Swaraj said it would be guided by African priorities and on terms that will liberate African potential and not constrain African future.
She said the African Continental Free Trade Area signed last March is another opportunity to boost trade and economic ties with Africa.
Africa has emerged as an important trade and investment partner. India Africa bilateral trade stood at US $ 62.66 billion for 2017-18 which reflects an increase of nearly 22 % over the previous year. India is ranked as the third largest export destination in Arica.
In recent years, there has been a surge in Indian investment in Africa. India is the fifth largest investor in Africa with cumulative investments of US$ 54 billion.
"There is considerable potential to expand our business and investment ties further, especially in the areas of minerals and mining; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; infrastructure, high-technology manufacturing and information and communication technology," Swaraj said.
This is the first time that India announced an Africa Day in keeping with high-level engagements with the continent since the 2015 mega India-Africa summit. Some 200 African businessmen are attending the meet to explore the Indian market. (UNI)