In a bid to expand its diplomatic presence across Africa, the Indian Government on Monday announced plans to increase its missions on the continent from 18 to 47 resident embassies.

The High Commissioner of India to Nigeria, Amb.  Nagabhushana Reddy, made the announcement in Lagos at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Ambassadorial Briefing.

The theme of the briefing is, “India-Nigeria Relations on the Eve of Sixty Years of Diplomatic Engagement, and Ten Principles of India-Africa Engagement”.

Reddy said India as Africa’s development partner would deepen her engagements with Nigeria and other African countries after the past sixty years of their diplomatic relations.

The high commissioner said his home government had evolved new “Connects” for advancing result-oriented relations with Nigeria and other African countries in the years ahead.

“Indian enjoys time-tested relations with Africa. India is the development partner of Africa and is currently the fifth largest investor in Africa. To us India-African partnership stands out.

“At the cusp of these past 60 years of engagement between Nigeria and India is the development of a `Connect’.

“There are plans to soon embark on the expansion of India’s diplomatic presence in Africa from 18 resident embassies to 47,’’ he told newsmen.

Reddy said the Indian government would soon engage African countries in development partnership,

trade and investment, digital revolution,agriculture,climate change, combating terrorism and extremism and exploring opportunities in global institutions.

The high commissioner described India and Nigeria as good trade partners in 2017 and this year, adding that there are 135 Indian companies operating across Nigeria.

According to him, ‘Unique Connect’ has been developed for promoting mutually beneficial relations with Nigeria in the areas of trade, diversity, development, defence, democracy, and energy.

Other are agriculture, medical and educational connects with India.

Reddy said: “Today we have about 500 training programmes per annum for Nigerians under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC).

“We also want Nigerians to take advantage of our 25 scholarship and fellowships offer for them.

“We strongly believe that through these connects, we can make each of the two countries stronger,’’ he said. (NAN)

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