(dpa) - Leaders from 14 African countries and regional groups gathered in New Delhi Tuesday for the first India-Africa summit, which seeks to enhance economic, energy and security cooperation.
The summit opened as India looks for more energy sources to fuel its booming economy and seeks to counter China's growing influence in resource-rich Africa.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was scheduled to address the two-day summit at the city' Vigyan Bhawan complex.
South African President Thabo Mbeki, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Congo President Joseph Kabila and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as well as leaders from Ghana, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia were attending the summit.
At the end of the summit, India and the African participants were expected to issue two agreements that would set out a road map for their new partnership: an Africa-India framework for cooperation and the Delhi Declaration, which is to include an action plan for deepening India's strategic and economic engagement with Africa.
New Delhi has organized the meeting, taking a cue from neighbouring China, which held a summit with 35 African leaders in November 2006.
The foray by the Asian giants into Africa is primarily driven by their need to find new sources of energy to feed their fast-growing economies.
But Beijing has had a head start as it embarked on wooing African countries nearly a decade before India; its trade volumes and presence in the hydrocarbon sector far surpass that of India.
New Delhi, which is anxious about its energy security, has begun making inroads into Africa, promising joint ventures and partnerships, which analysts feel could heat up the race for the continent's resources.
"The summit is not only historic but will give a new dimension and momentum to the partnership that is there and evolving between Africa and India," Indian Junior Foreign Minister Anand Sharma said.
India and African countries are looking to double their trade from the current levels of 30 billion dollars over the next five years.
The two sides were also to discuss agriculture, food security, terrorism, climate change and reforms in world bodies such as the United Nations.