New Delhi: Describing Africa as a frontier of "new opportunities", External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said India was committed to the continent's economic growth and its integration with global economy as the landmark India-Africa summit kicks off here tomorrow.
"India considers Africa as a part of its extended neighbourhood. Our partnership with Africa is unique and dates back to our civilizational contacts through ancient seafarers, traders, intellectuals and monks," she said inaugurating a rose garden dedicated to India-Africa friendship in the national capital's diplomatic enclave.
"Today as one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, India is attaching the utmost importance to its economic engagement with the African countries," the External Affairs Minister said.
Underlining substantial trade and investments, she termed Africa as a frontier of "new opportunities", adding "we are interested in Africa's economic growth and its integration with global economy."
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, she said "the African continent and India are tied together in varied ways. Of them, one is the philosophy of Gandhi and Mandela. Both led their respective nations to freedom through their humanitarian principles and philosophy."
Quoting Mandela's words "India is the Mahatma's country of birth; South Africa is his country of adoption", she said the great South African leader acknowledged his achievements to the influence of Gandhi's ideals and principles on his movement, career, and life.
Africa, the "cradle of human civilization" and India, the "ancient civilization" - both have their uniqueness and at the same time similarities in: historical experiences, goals, visions and hurdles. The regions share a common commitment to ideals of peace, non-alignment and economic justice, she said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal attending the function mentioned India and Africa's "shared" history of struggle against colonialism and injustice and their icons Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.
Kejriwal called for joint formulating of strategies to face challenges common to Delhi and African cities.
"The challenges that Delhi faces as a city, I am sure similar challenges are faced by various cities in African continent. I look forward to an opportunity where all of us can come together to formulate strategies to face these challenges," he said.
Foreign Minister of Madagascar, Beatrice Atallah, Ambassador of Ethiopia, Gennet Zewide, New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi, and delegates of several African nations were also present on the occasion.
The 3 acre park dedicated to the friendship of India and Africa has been planted with over 6,000 rose saplings of 65 varieties collected from all parts of the country, said Naresh Kumar, chairman of New Delhi Municipal Council.
The delegates of African countries also planted saplings of roses in the garden.