Abidjan: President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday arrived in Cote D'Ivoirie on the second leg of his three-nation African tour during which he will witness the reopening of Exim bank and receive the country's highest honour.
This is the maiden visit of the Indian President to "home of hospitality" Cote D'Ivoirie and is seen as India's outreach to Africa.
Mukherjee's visit comes close on the heels of Vice President Hamid Ansari's trip of Morocco and Tunisia. Mukherjee, who arrived here on a two-day visit, was received at the airport by Cote D'Ivoirie President Alassane Ouattara. He was also accorded a warm traditional welcome from about 30 tribal chiefs who wore colourful dresses.
"Exim Bank is going to re-open its office. It was relocated to Dakar during the civil war, so they have now got all the permissions and are relocation back to Ivory Coast. This is their regional office in West Africa to monitor all the lines of credit that we have," Secretary (Economic Relations) Amar Sinha said.
"In 2011, a new government has come in and there has been a national reconciliation...," Sinha had said. In a symbolic gesture, the president will be handed over key of Abidjan city, the economic capital and largest city of Cote D'Ivoirie. Cote D'Ivoirie also known as Ivory Coast, a francophone country, is the biggest producer and exporter of cashew nuts to India which procures nearly 80 per cent of their total exports of cashew nuts.
The president's arrival coincided with rains which is considered a good omen by the locales. "When a guest comes with rain, it is the most auspicious occasion in our country. The second line of our national anthem says our country is a home of hospitality," said Brice, a local.
The country had gone through a period of turmoil in the last decade due to civil war but its development can be seen from modern expressways crisscrossing the lush green countryside.