Telemedicine facility of Pan-African network inaugurated


New Delhi : India is willing to share its expertise with Africa in bridging the digital divide, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor has said in Addis Ababa while inaugurating a telemedicine facility of India’s flagship information technology initiative, Pan-African e-network.

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Speaking in Addis Ababa, Tharoor said: “We will be happy to share our own development expertise in bridging the digital divide and for harnessing the potential of ICT for socio-economic development.”

The African Union commission chairperson Jean Ping cut the ribbon along with Tharoor to inaugurate the facility at the headquarters of the African Union in the Ethiopian capital. The Indian minister assured the African Union that India was ready to be a partner to convert challenges into opportunities.

India had launched the Pan-African e-network in 2007 with the aim to link all the secretariats of the heads of states of 53 African nations. It was also providing tele-education and tele-medicine facilities by linking hospitals in Africa with super-specialty hospitals in India.

“This project, very aptly, symbolises the age-old bonds of friendship between India and the countries of the African continent, as well as the cutting-edge nature of our emerging relationship. This, in fact, is a direction towards which we need to guide it further,” said Tharoor.

India has already entered into bilateral agreements with 47 countries for establishing this network, which is being implemented by state-run TCIL India Ltd.

Tharoor said that 26 learning centres and 26 patient-end hospitals in Africa have already got linked with universities and super-specialty hospitals in India.

“This facility at the African Union Commission will now represent the many similar facilities coming up all over Africa,” he said.

The Indian minister was in Addis Ababa, primarily to attend the African Union summit, where he met with foreign ministers of several African countries on the sidelines.

“We envisage a partnership that is anchored in the fundamental principles of equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. We have no doubt that working together, the two billion people of India and Africa can set an example of fruitful cooperation in the developing world,” he said.

Tharoor added that a joint plan of action for Framework of Cooperation was under development with the African Union, which will represent a new paradigm for cooperation for Pan-African institutions and programmes.

“I am happy to mention that a series of consultations have taken place and the Joint Plan of Action should soon be ready for signature,” he said.