S Jaishankar, Niger President inaugurate spacious, modern convention centre at Niamey

Niamey (Niger), Jan 22 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou have jointly inaugurated the Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre (MGICC), a spacious, modern and eco-friendly facility for high-level conventions here.

The convention centre, a symbol of India's commitment towards Africa, was inaugurated during Jaishankar's visit to Niger.

MGICC is the first centre to be established in Africa by India to honour the memory of Mahatma Gandhi whose 150th birth anniversary was observed in 2019.

Jaishankar visited Niger's capital Niamey on January 21 and 22.

During the visit, the External Affairs Minister called on the Niger President on January 21 and both the leaders jointly inaugurated MGICC.

"The establishment of the Centre is a landmark for Niger-India friendship, as also a symbol of India's firm commitment towards Africa," an External Affairs Ministry release said.

The convention centre has been designed as a spacious, modern and eco-friendly facility and has a 2000-capacity plenary hall which can be used for high-level and wide-ranging participation from African Union member states and other high-level conventions.

The release said that construction of MGICC was completed in record time by Shapoorji Pallonji Private Limited. NBCC was the project management consultant.

India and Niger had announced their partnership for establishing Mahatma Gandhi International Conference Centre in Niamey, Niger in September 2018.

A Memorandum of Understanding for MGICC was signed in the presence of then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Mohamed Saidil Moctar, Minister and Special Adviser to the President of Niger.

The total cost of the project was 56 million US dollars with India giving grant assistance of 63.36 per cent and the Niger government contributing the balance. The total built-up area of the project is 13,799 sq metres and includes a plenary hall, a presidential block, presidential hall, administrative block, VIP block, banquet hall, service area and utility block.

During his stay in Niamey, Jaishankar also called on Prime Minister of Niger Brigi Rafini and held discussions on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues with his counterpart Kalla Ankourao, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Regional Integration of Niger.

The release said that India and Niger enjoy close relations and bilateral relations have expanded significantly in the recent years.

"India has provided Lines of Credit to Niger for projects in transport, electrification, solar energy and potable drinking water. Several hundreds of officials from Niger have utilized India's capacity building training programmes under the ITEC programme. India has also extended assistance to Niger in support of organizing the African Union (AU) summit held in Niamey on July 7-8, 2019," it said.

The release said that visit by External Affairs Minister to Niamey was a reiteration of importance India attaches to its relations Niger and with other countries in the Sahel. (ANI)