In a significant humanitarian gesture and in keeping with India’s tradition of reaching out to people in Africa in times of need; India will deliver 270 tonnes of food aid to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea, to alleviate the suffering of the people affected by natural calamities and the Covid-19 pandemic.
This area of Africa, known as the Horn of Africa, has been facing unrest due to internecine war among various tribal militias since decades. However due to international mediation, the area is enjoying peace, but the region requires hand-holding of the local people, governments and institutions, to make them stand on their own feet. India, which provides thousands of peacekeeping soldiers to the area, has been playing a major role in the upliftment of the impoverished people, through various capacity building programmes.
The food aid, comprising 155 tonnes of wheat flour, 65 tonnes of rice and 50 tonnes of sugar, is being transported on the Indian Naval Ship AIRAVAT, which left Mumbai last week on a visit to the region, during which it will make port calls at Djibouti, Massawa, Port in Sudan and Mombasa.
According to the Indian External Affairs Ministry, the strong bonds of friendship and brotherly relations between India and countries in Africa have been forged and strengthened over several centuries. India has always stood in solidarity with the countries and people in Africa and has partnered in undertaking development, capacity building and humanitarian assistance programmes. In the aftermath of Corona pandemic, India had earlier despatched various medical aid and experts to train African countries in their fight against the Corona virus. India had sent medical teams to various African countries like Comoros, Mauritius, and Madagascar through its naval warships. India has also trained medical workers in these countries in the proper management of Covid-19 patients,
Ever Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, India has worked closely with the Governments in the African countries on repatriation of each other’s nationals through special flights and for supply of medical assistance. India had earlier rushed Covid related assistance to the region. Building on the strength of goodwill acquired over decades of development assistance, India is now forging new partnerships with member states of African Union. Indian External Affairs Minister in this context had earlier emphasized that Africa is India’s priority and for India, Africa’s rise as one of the global system’s poles is not just desirable, but absolutely necessary.
In this backdrop, India has been extending all sorts of assistance to the resources rich area, so as to make them self-sufficient. With this aim, India has deepened its engagement with the small economies of the region. Ever since India has launched its “Focus Africa” programme, two decades ago; India-Africa ties have seen a steady growth. Unlike other powers, whose engagement with the region is focused on exploitation of the local resources and markets, India has been implementing capacity building programmes through its technical economic assistance called Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.
To empower, African economies, India has been extending better access to its market, which has resulted in India emerging as Africa’s third largest export destination. India has also encouraged its business houses to invest in the region, which has reached a figure of over US$ 54 billion. This has made India one of the biggest investors in the African continent. According to an official estimate, India has implemented 197 developmental projects in 37 countries, at a cost of US$ 11.6 billion, in addition to this, India is currently working on 77 additional projects in 29 countries. These projects relate to infrastructure, ICT, power generation, agriculture, oil and gas. India has also invested over US $ 7 billion in Mozambique, South Sudan and other backward regions of North West Africa. Earlier this year in February, an India Africa Defence Ministers conclave was organized to help African countries in security management. India thus, is heavily investing in the continent, with its various developmental assistance and cooperation programmes.
Script: Ranjit Kumar, Senior Journalist