Afro-Indian Relations for Mutual Benefit
Third India-Africa Forum Summit (26-29 Oct 2015) just concluded in Delhi. The entire African continent of 54 nations was represented. Africa is rich in oil, Uranium, gold, diamonds and other commodities which India consumes. Africa stands to benefit from Indian assistance in defence, security, education, technology and other fields. The relations are mutually beneficial and set to grow. Let us see the major areas of mutual benefit.
India announced concessional credit of $10 million over the next 5 years for Africa. This will be in addition to India’s ongoing credit programmes.
PM also announced a grant assistance of $600 million, which will include India-Africa Development Fund of $100 million and India-Africa Health Fund of $10 million.
It will also include 50,000 scholarships in India over the next five years. And, it will support the expansion of the Pan African E-Network and institutions of skilling, training and learning across Africa.
UN Security Council
India and Africa are unrepresented at the UNSC. It was unanimously decided to speak in one voice to effect reform of United Nations, including Security Council.
India-Africa trade is over $70 billion. India is now a major source of business investments in Africa. Today, 34 African countries enjoy duty free access to the Indian market. There was large immigration of Indian labour during the colonial period, brought over to work on the railways in East Africa, and on sugar and other plantations in Mauritius, Madagascar and Southern Africa. Many descendents form the bulk of the Indian diaspora in Africa today. Indians became critical links in the export of African commodities such as tea, coffee and cotton and the import of manufactured goods and grains such as rice, pulses and textiles.
Oil is a central commodity shaping the economic relationship between Africa and India and, therefore, merits special attention. India is the world’s fifth largest consumer of oil and will be in third place by 2030. As India’s population continues to rise and become wealthier, energy consumption levels are predicted to double over the next two decades. India gets over 70 percent of her oil from the Middle East and is keen to diversify the portfolio and increase imports from major African oil exporters like Nigeria, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and Sudan.
India is exploring Uranium mining opportunities in Niger and Namibia.
India is the world’s major jewellery maker. India is the world’s leading processor of diamonds, accounting for 85 percent in terms of volume on the total world market. Gold in particular defines India’s economic relations with South Africa, the latter being the world’s leading supplier of gold.
Indian investment in agriculture has the potential to directly boost production. In June, Delhi launched a three-year project in West Africa to help boost the region’s declining cotton industry. Indian investors have also articulated their plans to spend $2.5 billion on millions of hectares of land in East Africa, to grow produce such as maize, palm oil and rice for export, mainly to India.
In the last three years alone, nearly 25,000 young Africans have been trained and educated in India. Development of human capital in every walk of life will be at the heart of the partnership. India plans to expand online education and continue to build institutions in Africa.
Healthcare & Medicine
India’s expertise in healthcare and affordable medicines can offer new hope in the fight against many diseases. India will also collaborate to develop Indian and African treasures of traditional knowledge and medicines.
India plans to make available space assets and technology and use the possibilities of digital technology to transform development, public services, governance, disaster response, resource management and quality of life.
Clean energy & Climate
India will also deepen the partnership with Africa on clean energy, sustainable habitats, public transport and climate resilient agriculture.
India-Africa should also achieve a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security and special safeguard mechanism in agriculture for the developing countries.
India has vast experience in fighting terrorism and continues to do so. Africa is also experiencing wide spread terrorism. India wishes to deepen cooperation in maritime security and countering terrorism.
UN Peacekeeping Missions
India will also provide support for African Union’s peacekeeping efforts and train African peacekeepers in India and in Africa.
Mutually beneficial ties between India and countries of the African continent are on an upswing and will continue to grow in the future.