Geostrategic to ancient civilisations, including the trade ties between

 Geostrategic

§  Africa
is critical to India’s security, especially the Horn of Africa region, because
of its proximity with India. The threat of radicalism, piracy,organized crime
emerge from this region

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§  Economic

§  Africa
can help us in diversifying our energy sources, which is one of the stated
objective of our Integrated Energy Policy

§  Africa
also contains rich reservoir of valuable minerals, metals including gold and
diamond

§  Africa
provides a space for Indian investment

§  Africa
has ample agricultural land which cab address India’s food security. India is
looking at leasing land in Africa to overcome the land deficit that we face in
terms of arable land

§  Geopolitical

§  Support
of African countries is important for India’s aim of gaining a permanent seat
in UNSC

§  Africa
provides a space for displaying both India’s soft and hard power

§  India
has been actively involved in peace and stability of African countries through
UN Peace keeping operations. India is involved in capacity building of African
countries. Africa is also the largest beneficiary of India’s ITEC programme

 

India’s relation with the African countries

 

Origin and Nature:

 

India and Africa
share a long and rich history of interaction that dates back to ancient
civilisations, including the trade ties between the Nile and Indus valleys.4
India’s shared colonial heritage with many African countries has significantly
contributed to this connection, as has the migration of many Indian workers to
Southern and Eastern Africa, establishing large diasporas in these areas.5
India’s attitude towards its general relations with Africa in the post–World
War II era has been informed by principles of South–South cooperation, such as
respect for state sovereignty, non-interference, mutual benefit and equality.
Originally adopted in 1955 at the Bandung Conference, this approach was
reaffirmed in the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership of 2005. In
particular, the relatively narrow approach of Western aid, with its implicit
donor–recipient relationship, contrasts with India’s broader approach of
‘economic, technical, and cultural cooperation for mutual benefit.

 

India has had centuries-old
connections with Africa with brisk travel and trade across the Indian Ocean,
colonial linkages and ties forged in the post-colonial days of South-South
cooperation and Third World solidarity. The warm friendly ties have been
interspersed with periods of benign neglect as India’s strategic and economic
priorities turned to forging closer relations in other parts of the globalised
world.

In
21st Century India has emerged as a reliable
partner in development efforts by African nations providing credit lines,
helping in human resource development and building infrastructure. The changing
balance of power in world, ascending China and dynamic Africa has given new
vigour and dimensions to India Africa relationship in recent times which is
expected to continue.

 

The 21st century is witnessing a
substantial re-engagement of India and Africa. Though India and Africa have a
history dating back millennia, bilateral relations for most of the 20th century
were tepid as each focused inward, first on anticolonial struggles and then on
building up their independent countries. However, since the turn of the century
India has re-engage with Africa as both experienced significant economic growth
and face similar development challenges on their path towards sustained
progress. Acknowldeging the importance of mutual cooperation, both India and
African countries have been engaging with each other through bilateral and
multilateral initiatives, including the Pan-African e-network, India- Africa
Forum Summits, such initiatives signal India and Africa’s mutual interest in
strengthening their relationship and South-South cooperation.

Focus areas:

Africa matters to India due
to a mix of political, strategic and economic considerations, including
maritime, energy and food security. Africa’s interest in what India stands for
and offers, has been growing. India has been an important partner in African
development odyssey.

 Africa’s is an emerging
force with the continent’s collective GDP expected to touch $3.6 trillion by
2020, a burgeoning market projected to expand to $1.4 trillion by 2020 and
population of 125 million, providing huge opportunities for India and Africa to
strengthen ties in diverse areas. Africa is key to India’s economic and
maritime interests in the Indian Ocean region.

 

·        
Industrial, trade and infrastructure:

Indian investment has risen as
opportunities opened up in the African markets, with several high growth
economies. Indian investments are around $33 billion. Trade has been on an
upward path and currently at an estimated $70 billion.

·        
Agriculture:

A
unique opportunity lies in Africa’s agriculture sector which suffers from low
productivity, limited use of technology, lack of high yielding varieties of
crops and good quality seeds. This opens a window for Indian entrepreneurs in
field of agriculture, fertilizers and Indian institutes engaged in production
of new crop varieties.

New
areas of cooperation have opened up with Indian plans to import 1lakh tonnes of
arhar and moong dal from Mozambique on a government to government basis.

·        
Energy sector

Africa
is a major energy source for India with Nigeria and Angola supplying a major
part of India’s oil imports and South Africa exporting coal to India.
Mozambique is also the third largest exporter of gas after Qatar and Australia;
OVL and Oil India have a stake in a gas block in the Rovuma Basin.

·        
Health and Education

India
provides huge opportunities to Africa in areas of education and health sector.
India has been providing health services through Pan -African network. Africa
is also destination for India’s generic drug industry and thus helping Africa
with cost effective healthcare.

Indian
is emerging as a major destination for African students. Along with this
collaboration with Africa universities, faculty exchange programmes can be
started to strengthen the co-operation in the field of education.

·        
Science and Technology

India
has taken significant strides in the field of science and technology especially
in areas of pharma, satellite systems, communication system, IT etc. India can
provide help to African nations in all of these sectors.

·        
Counter-terrorism and UN reforms

African
nations and India have been victim of terrorism and therefore have common
interest in tackling the menace of terrorism and can put a common voice on the
issue on major global foras.

Both
have significant interests in reforming multilateral institutions and
especially UNSC. African support for Indian permanent membership for UNSC will
provide a boost to Indian credentials.

 

·        
Defence co-operation

With
east African nations defence co-operation was the major thrust areas during
last year. India has been offering itself as a net security provider in the
Indian Ocean region and trying to attract African nations.

What are areas of concern?

Though
India-African relations are on ascendency there are several areas of concern.

·        
African
nations are pre-occupied with terrorism, civil war and other security threats.
They expect India to help them in these areas through military training,
military equipments and other helps. Indian inability to help them in these
areas because of resource crunch, absence of indigenous defence technology and
manufacturing is hampering co-operation in these areas.

·        
The
instances of racial attacks on African students and others in India has become
a source of tension and Nigeria even threatened to advise its students from coming
to India.

·        
China
is quickly expanding its footprint in the region. India has not been able to
match Chinese investments in Africa and is lagging behind in capital
investment. Chinese MSR is aimed reaching to African shores and is also
building military infrastructure in the region. This will be a challenge for
India.

India
and Africa together represent 250 million of population and both suffer from
poverty, hunger. Any collaboration among India and African nations must focus
on human development which can come only when there is peace and stability
which should define the contours of relationship.

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