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India’s engagement with African countries has become more extensive and fruitful in recent years and the growth story is mutually beneficial. New Delhi has not only declared Africa as a top priority in its foreign and economic policy, but has also taken several initiatives in the last few years to further strengthen its economic, commercial, cultural and political relations with African countries.
In fact, the just concluded back to back visits to India of the Foreign Minister of Gambia
Dr. Mamandou Tangara, and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for foreign affairs Ms. Monica Juma underlines once again that New Delhi’s relations with Africa are at an all-time high.
In order to have a more meaningful diplomatic presence, India has decided to open 18 new Missions in Africa taking the total number to 47. Only last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had outlined 10 guiding principles for deepening India’s engagement with Africa to help in its economic growth and tackle challenges like terrorism and climate change. The thrust of the guiding principles is to unlock Africa’s potential through our enhanced engagement.
Mr. Modi had said “The world needs cooperation and not competition in the eastern shores of Africa and the eastern Indian Ocean. That is why India’s vision of Indian Ocean Security is cooperative and inclusive, rooted in security and growth for all in the region.”
India’s pro-active policy as regards Africa can be gauged from the fact that in the last five years it had an unprecedented 29 visits at the level of President, Vice President and Prime Minister to African countries. Besides, every single African country has been visited at least by an Indian Minister in the past four years.
Besides, there had been numerous incoming visits from Africa to India including. During the India-Africa Summit-III in 2015, India had adopted a truly continental and inclusive approach by inviting all 54 African countries. All African countries including 41 African Heads of Government/Heads of State had attended the Summit. The founding conference of the International Solar Alliance last year hosted by India saw over 35 leaders from Africa for various events in the last four years. The President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa was the Chief Guest for the Republic Day this year.
These exchanges of visits signifies that India’s overall relations with Africa in defence, security, economic, trade & investment relations, development partnership and capacity building are at a record high.
India’s trade with Africa has multiplied and diversified. India has become the 5th largest investor in Africa with cumulative investments estimated at US $ 54 billion. 34 countries from Africa now enjoy the benefit of DFTP (Duty Free Tariff Preference) scheme to facilitate greater trade with New Delhi.
After South Asia, the African continent is the largest recipient of Indian overseas assistance.181 Lines of Credit have been extended to 41 countries for a total amount of more than 11 billion dollars, which is 42% of the total amount under LoCs.
Under development cooperation programmes, India has undertaken power projects and dams in Sudan and Rwanda to water treatment in Tanzania, sugar factories in Ethiopia and IT Parks in Mozambique and Swaziland.
Interestingly, India has even supplied 250 e-Rickshaws with lithium-ion batteries to Senegal on a grant basis to assist it in adopting clean and efficient energy sources in the area of urban public transport.
India has set up seven Vocational Training Centres and six Information Technology Centres in Africa. Entrepreneurial Training Centres are also being set up in many African countries.
India sources nearly 18 per cent of its crude oil and LNG requirement mostly from the West African region. It imports crude oil from Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Chad and Sudan/South Sudan and LNG from Nigeria. Besides, it is into Oil exploration in Sudan/South Sudan, Gabon, Libya and LNG and Coal mining in Mozambique. South Africa and Ghana supply more than a quarter of our total Coal requirements.
All in all, a robust and pro-active Africa policy has reinvigorated India-Africa partnership which is the need of the hour.
Script: Sunil Gatade , Political Commentator