India can assist Africa with advanced agro-based technologies to transform the continent into a food bowl of the world, said Uganda’s High Commissioner to India Grace Akello at a webinar titled “Next Steps in India-Africa Partnership – Pandemic and Beyond.” The Ugandan envoy underlined that a post-COVID world will open new avenues for India and Africa to partner in areas such as healthcare and pharmaceuticals,
India should take advantage of Uganda’s rich natural resources to jointly manufacture time-tested Ayurvedic and other herbal medicines for mutual benefit, said Ms Grace Akello. “Africa has abundant raw materials for making plant-based medicines. The people of Africa have been using them for centuries. So, we should collaborate in this area to further strengthen Africa-India relationship,” Ms Akello said.
To mark the 2020 Africa Day, an International Webinar entitled “Mapping Next Steps in India-Africa Partnership: Pandemic & Beyond,” was organised by the Delhi headquartered India Writes Network, a leading publishing and research organisation focused on global affairs and India and the World magazine. The Webinar brought together eminent diplomats, experts and thought leaders from India and over African and several European countries.
In his welcome remarks, Manish Chand, Founder-CEO of India Writes Network and India and the World, set out key themes of the conference. “Taking a long-range view, the virtual seminar will help map the future trajectory of the India-Africa partnership in accordance with 10 principles of the India-Africa partnership outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his defining speech to the Ugandan parliament in July 2018.”
“Both countries have held high-level consultations in many areas, including a proposal to establish collaboration between drug agencies. Uganda, like the rest of Africa, has been afflicted by fake drugs, and its poor health infrastructure has further compounded the crisis,” she said. “India and Africa could mutually benefit from such a partnership,” the ambassador said.
“We would also like to establish a close working relationship between our virus institute in Entebbe and its Indian counterparts. Uganda has done a lot of research on virology because we dealt with Ebola. But India has much more advanced research capacity and technology, and so we want to collaborate,” she said. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Africa in 2018, he donated a cancer machine to Uganda’s leading cancer institute on behalf of his government, which was highly appreciated by the people of Uganda, she added.
Moderated by Manish Chand, the Webinar was addressed by eminent diplomats and experts. This included: Dr Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director General, DIRCO, South Africa; H.E. Mr. AlemTsehayeWoldemariam, Ambassador of Eritrea in India and Dean of African Group Heads of Mission in India; David Rasquinha, MD, EXIM Bank; H.E. Ambassador of Uganda to India Grace Akello; H.E. Morocco’s Ambassador to India Mohammed Maliki; H.E. Ambassador of Ethiopia to India TizitaMulugeta; H.E. Sékou KASSÉ, Ambassador of Mali; Amb. Virendra Gupta, India’s former high commissioner to South Africa; Prof. RajanHarshe, academic and author; and Pranav Kumar, Head, International Trade (CII).
Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni reached out to PM Modi for pandemic assistance and the two leaders expressed solidarity with each other. Besides COVID-related assistance, their discussions also revolved around jointly manufacturing drugs, including Hydroxychloroquine, in Uganda. “We know India has better drugs as well as the means to monitor production, and Uganda wants to collaborate on this,” she said. Indian entities have already established hospitals and diagnostic centres. They were also in talks for setting up pharmaceutical industries, but such novel initiatives should not be delayed, the envoy stressed.
“India has already been helping us with lines of credit. So, in a post-COVID analysis, we need to look at how we can productively utilize the Lines of Credit from India and not end up losing it in fruitless ventures,” she said. “There are many other areas that India and Africa could collaborate, such as agriculture, industry, and skill development, which would bring immense benefits to both the regions,” said the Ambassador.
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