New Delhi: The 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit kicked off here on Monday with a meeting among the senior officials of the host nation and 54 countries from the African continent.
"A moment for the cameras. IAFS formally begins with senior officials meeting," India's foreign ofice spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted, soon after a photo session at the venue, the Indira Gandhi Nation Stadium here.
According to Indian officials, this will, perhaps, be the first time that all the 54 African countries are coming together outside the continent for such a meeting, with 40 of them expected to be represented by their heads of state or government.
The two previous India-Africa summits were held in 2008 and 2011, in New Delhi and Addis Ababa but with only representative participation from African countries. The actual summit this time among the leaders is scheduled on October 29.
The itinerary includes a meeting among the foreign ministers on Tuesday and a grand banquet to be hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, on the evening of October 29. There will also be bilateral meetings.
Ahead of the summit, Prime Minister Modi has said that India's areas of focus in Africa will continue to be human resource development, institution building, infrastructure, clean energy, agriculture, health, education and skill development.
Commerce is high on the agenda. India's trade with Africa has ballooned 20 times in the last 15 years and currently stands at $70 billion. India's investment in Africa range between $30-35 billion.