NEW DELHI: As part of India's reachout to Africa, the External Affairs Ministry on Monday signed an agreement with the Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd. (TCIL) to establish a pan-African e-network between the two nations.
"This project, called the e-VidyaBharati and e-ArogyaBharati Network Project, will serve as yet another bridge - a digital bridge - between our countries, shrinking the distance between India and Africa even more," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at the signing ceremony.
She said that the the Project "is a clear effort by India to reach out to Africa in the critical areas of education and health".
"This e-network aims at providing quality tele-education and tele-medicine facility by linking select Indian Universities, Institutions and Super Specialty Hospitals to African educational institutions and hospitals," the Minister said.
Stating that the earlier avatar of this project was operated on satellite-based technology and covered 48 African countries, Sushma Swaraj said that it has now been decided to establish two separate web-based portals - one each for tele-education and tele-medicine.
"This would significantly increase the ease of access for students, doctors etc. who are the intended beneficiaries of this project," she said.
Reiterating the importance of Africa in India's foreign policy priorities, the External Affairs Minister pointed out that in the last four years, there have been 26 visits to African countries at the level of President, Vice President and Prime Minister apart from several other Ministerial visits.
"It has been decided to significantly enhance our diplomatic presence in Africa with the opening of 18 new resident missions over the coming four years," she said.
She also referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 10 guiding principles of India's engagement with Africa during his address to the Ugandan parliament in July and said: "Our development partnership will be guided by African priorities, so that it liberates African potential and not constrain their future.
"We will rely on African talent and skills and build local capacity and create local opportunities. We will keep our markets open and make it attractive to trade with India."
Sushma Swaraj also said that the Indian industry will be supported for investing in Africa.
India is also a leading development aid partner of African countries and this includes implementation of 180 lines of credit worth about $11 billion in over 40 African countries.