New Delhi: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, addressed the National Assembly of The Gambia yesterday (July 31, 2019) in Banjul.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that India and Africa share the same development challenges and are both driven by similar imperatives. Africa’s economic projection and India’s growth can complement each other. Our trade and investment relations are growing. Our bilateral trade stood at over US$ 62 billion for 2017-18. India has become the fifth largest investor in Africa with cumulative investments at over US$ 54 billion. The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement launched this month will make Africa the largest free trade area in the world. India views this development as yet another opportunity to boost economic ties with Africa.
The President said that our development cooperation, based on African priorities and sustainable partnerships, is a key feature of our engagement with the continent. After South Asia, the African continent is the largest recipient of Indian overseas assistance. 181 Lines of Credit have been extended to 41 countries for a total amount of US$ 11 billion. Our projects have made a great difference to the quality of life of the African people, all over the African continent.
The President said that India cherishes its privileged development partnership with The Gambia. India has, in keeping with The Gambian priorities, extended support for its social and economic progress – from capacity building, financial assistance to implementing infrastructure projects. India has provided concessional lines of credit worth US$ 78.5 million to support programs of rural development, agriculture, drinking water, healthcare and setting up physical infrastructure of The Gambia. Another line of credit of US$ 92 million has been extended. Each year, we receive young Gambians in India for education, for skilling and for navigating the digital world. We remain committed to strengthening The Gambian capacity to build institutions and help democracy deliver.
Later in the evening (July 31, 2019), the President addressed the Indian community at a Reception hosted by Shri Rajeev Kumar, Ambassador of India to Senegal and Gambia.
Addressing the gathering, the President said that in our quest for development and growth, the overseas Indian community is an invaluable partner. We are keen to connect with them deeper and stronger. To support our Diaspora abroad, we have a special focus to make public service delivery smooth, hassle-free and efficient. We have undertaken several measures to make it easier to obtain passport, consular documents and OCI cards. To reach those in need, we have employed social media, apps and digital platforms for quicker and targeted service.
The President noted that the Indian community has always risen to the occasion whenever called for help by the local government. During the Ebola crisis in this region, the community contributed handsomely to The Gambian government efforts for emergency assistance. Whenever the National Hospital in The Gambia has had a shortage of medicines or consumables, the community has got together and provided the same.
Today (August 1, 2019), the President will leave for the Republic of Guinea – the last leg of his three nations visit to Benin, The Gambia and Guinea. Before leaving for Guinea, the President will inaugurate an exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi and Khadi in Banjul.