New Delhi, India – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says Liberia welcomes the formation of the India-Africa Business Council which will promote business partnerships and joint ventures, thereby expanding investment and trade between Africa and India.
She said these kinds of Summits have led to deepening of the relationship between India and Africa with significant expansion in trade, in private sector investment, and in bilateral programs and financing arrangements, aimed at supporting development across all sectors, as well as capacity building and institutional development.
According to a dispatch, the Liberia President made the assertion when she addressed the opening of the 3rd India – Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi on Thursday, October 29, 2015. The Summit will enable consultations at the highest political level between the heads of state and government of all 54 nations across Africa and the Indian government to give a new thrust to an age-old partnership. It will also provide an opportunity to not only reflect on the past, but to define the road ahead in tune with the present times.
It also brings together in India, the largest number of foreign leaders since the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in 1983 and the Commonwealth Summit in the same year. This Summit also builds upon the first India – Africa Forum Summit on 2008 and the second in Addis Ababa in 2011.
Touching on Liberia – India relations which has spanned over six decades of strong bonds of friendship and economic cooperation, President Sirleaf catalogued the benefits from bilateral assistance in the area of public transport, education and agriculture.
“The level of trade continues to expand as large numbers of Indian owned companies are now moving into manufacturing enterprises. Our access to India’s Duty Free Tariff Preferred Status enhances the partnership even further. The Indian Female Police Unit, included in our security sector reform, is the first ever women contingent in the history of UN peacekeeping,” she stressed, which, she said, has transformed the thinking of Liberian women in the role they can play in the security sector.
Touching on visits of high profile Indian government officials to Liberia, the Liberia leader expressed her pleasure at welcoming in 2009 the first visit of an Indian Foreign Minister in 38 years along with a confederation of industry and business delegation, which was followed by another Ministerial delegation in 2015.
She noted also several Liberian Ministers that had the pleasure to visit India between 2009 and 2013, including herself. “I was pleased to have visited in 2013, where several agreements and bilateral instruments were concluded; and I was deeply honored to visit the site of Mahatma Gandhi and to have been conferred, during the visit, the 2012 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development,” she said.
President Sirleaf used the occasion to also thank Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, the Government and people of India for the sympathy and support which Liberia received as the country successfully combatted the Ebola virus disease and looked forward to concluding ongoing bilateral programs aimed at supporting Liberia and the other affected countries in building a resilient health system and meeting the challenges of post-Ebola economic recovery.
She noted that as the world prepares for the 10th World Trade Organization Conference in Nairobi, the first in Africa, Liberia wishes to thank all the sister African countries and India as well as other partners who helped to put Liberia on the fast track to accession. “We expect to expand on the outcome of the Trade Ministers meeting in Delhi last week to build on economic and commercial cooperation at the WTO,” President Sirleaf said.
The Liberian chief executive indicated that the summit forms part of a series of historic processes and event scheduled in 2015 that will determine the state of the world in the next several years; a world that will be bequeathed to future generations. She name the events and processes to include the call for Africa’s Transformation under the Agenda 2063, the adoption of the 2030 Global Development Agenda with its Sustainable Development Goals and the Financing for Development Conference resulting in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
She said the world was also looking towards the closing chapter of the Global Vision 2030 at the Paris Climate Change Conference later this year that will, through resource allocation, right historical wrongs in accepting the principle common, but differential responsibility for the destruction of the planet.
Speaking earlier, Prime Minister Modi congratulated President Sirleaf on her 77th birth anniversary and welcomed the leaders of Africa to the 3rd India-Africa Summit. He said India will open its doors to the continent and build institutions in Africa to enhance development and strengthen democratic governance.
For their part, both the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and Chair of the African Union, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe called for reform in the United Nations.
In another development, President Sirleaf has been conferred an Honorary Doctorate degree by the Amity University in New Delhi, India. The Honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree was conferred on the Liberian President at a Special Convocation held on the campus of the University by its Chancellor.
At the ceremony, Amity University awarded a number of post-graduate scholarships to Liberia and indicated that the details will be worked out between officials of the two tertiary institutions.
President Sirleaf thanked the University for the Honor which she dedicated to the women of Liberia and Africa. She reflected on the longstanding relations between Liberia and India and looked forward for more progress.