NEW DELHI, 27th October, 2015 (WAM) — The ministerial meetings of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, IAFS, have begun at the Indira Gandhi National Stadium complex in New Delhi today.

The meetings are held within the framework of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, which began its sessions on Monday, October 26th, with the participation of Indian and African Ministers of Trade and Industry and senior officials, in preparation for the third session of the summit, which will open on Thursday with the participation of kings, presidents and heads of government from India and Africa.

In her opening speech, Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, said that India is committed to a people-centric approach which focuses on capacity building, human resource development and technical and financial support for our mutually agreed priorities. “In the past seven years, a total of 40,000 scholarships have been provided by Government of India to Africa. Since the Second India-Africa Forum Summit in 2011 alone, the figure stands at over 24,000 scholarships,” she said.

“Our scholarships and training programmes have spanned more than 300 training programmes in over 60 reputed institutions. In addition, we have given higher education scholarships at various universities and distance learning through the Pan Africa e-network. Through these programmes, we have endeavoured to develop African capabilities in areas ranging from marine hydrography to renewable energy, and from rural development to cyber security,” she added.

The Indian minister said that India and Africa “are the most rapidly growing developing economies in the world. We are very happy to note the intensification of India-Africa economic engagement in recent years. Our bilateral trade has multiplied 20 times in the last 15 years and doubled in the last five years to reach nearly US$72 billion in 2014-2015.”

Talking about modern-day security challenges and the threat of international terrorism, Ms. Swaraj said that the new international security environment and the evolving nature of conflicts are posing new challenges to the effectiveness of traditional peacekeeping missions.

“Greater involvement of the Troop Contributing Countries in the decision making process, including formulation of mandates and provision of adequate resources, is essential for the success of such endeavours,” she said.

“All our nations find themselves faced with the growing scourge of terrorism. The menace of non-state actors and cross border terrorism has acquired a new dimension. The scale of this challenge is huge and undermines the peace and stability in our countries, which is essential for our development efforts.

“In view of the fast growing linkages of such terrorist groups across the globe, we must step up our cooperation through intelligence exchange, training and other measures to counter this menace. We also hope that the international community will cooperate with urgency to adopt the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism,” she added.

The third edition of the four day IAFS summit, which will conclude on 29th October, will enable the highest level of political consultations between the heads of government of 54 nations across Africa and the Indian government.