‘India, Africa deserve UN Security Council’s permanent seats’ ….. NATION

India’s Minister of External Affairs Ms Sushma Swaraj has demanded permanent seats for India and Africa in the United Nation Security Council.

She called for more development partnership between Africa and India, which made the Indian government create 137 projects in 41 countries.

The minister said India’s trade with Africa increased 20 times and today stood at more than $70 billion.

She added that India had $30 to $35 billion worth of investment on the continent.

Ms Swaraj spoke at the opening of the Third Edition of the India-Africa Editors’ Forum in New Delhi.

She said: “The developing countries are also articulating similar views and concerns as the UN celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

“A major issue in this context is that of UN Security Council reforms. The Security Council continues to be representative of a world order of 1945. It is inconceivable that the   Security Council today does not have any permanent representation from Africa, which is the largest continent (in terms of number of countries).

“It is also incomprehensible that India, which represents almost one-sixth of the world’s population and has all credentials to be a permanent member of the Security Council, is still out of it. We all need to work together to remove this anomaly and the media has an important role in this.”

The minister asked for more collaboration between India and Africa, stressing that the Indian government created 137 projects in 41 countries in furtherance of this objective.

She added: “In the last 15 years, India’s trade with Africa has gone up 20 times and today stands at more than $70 billion. India also has a total investment of $30 to $35 billion in Africa.

“We have managed to extend concessional credit to the tune of $7.4 billion. Most of this credit stands approved and at least half has already been disbursed. Through credit lines, India has partnered Africa in creating 137 projects in 41 countries.

“Let me emphasise that our basic approach to our relations in Africa has been one of maximising mutual benefit. We have sought to complement our needs with each other’s strengths.

“Capacity building through programmes, such as ITEC (Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme), in which more than 25,000 scholarships have been provided since the 2nd India Africa-Forum Summit, remains a key element of that.

“Later this year, in December, we will witness the culmination of the global discourse in two other critical areas – climate change and world trade – in the form of COP 21 on Climate Change in Paris and the 10th WTO Ministerial in Kenya.

“This year has been historic for pushing forward South-South cooperation. We celebrated the 60th Anniversary of Asian-African Conference and the 10th Anniversary of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership at Bandung. We worked together in finalising the post-2015 Development Agenda.

“In both these meetings, India, Africa and other developing countries will have to work hand-in-hand to ensure that our development agenda is not affected.

On the Third Edition of the   India-Africa Forum Summit, she said it would be “an epoch -making engagement in this journey of strengthening South-South Cooperation  to promote world peace and prosperity, while accounting for Africa’s own aspirations for growth of pan-African institutions and development programmes.” Over the next four days, at the highest political levels, we will endeavour not just to give a new thrust to our age-old partnership but also to develop a new paradigm of cooperation focusing on key areas, such as infrastructure, agriculture, energy, innovation and health.”