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India-Africa ties

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Bilateral, Regional Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

 

Source: TH

 Context: India’s rise as a global player is inevitably linked to the kind of partnership it enjoys with Africa.

  

India-Africa ties – Background:

  • India enjoys historical, political, economic, and cultural connections with the African continent for a long back.
  • India’s links with the struggle for freedom and justice in South Africa date back to the period during which Mahatma Gandhi started his Satyagraha movement in South Africa.
  • India worked consistently to put the issue of apartheid on the agenda of the UN, NAM and other multilateral organisations.

 

India-Africa ties – Current Status:

 

  • India’s Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) has been a useful medium for promoting cooperation in the development of human resources.
  • In the past 15 years and especially since 2014, India-Africa relations have developed steadily but more progress is achievable.
  • In this context, the Africa Expert Group (AEG) – established by the Vivekananda International Foundation, presented the ‘India-Africa Partnership: Achievements, Challenges and Roadmap 2030’.

 

Highlights of the India-Africa Partnership (Achievements, Challenges and Roadmap 2030):

  • Transitions unfolding in Africa: It is slowly heading toward regional integration and is devoted to democracy, peace and progress, even as countries (like Ethiopia, and Sudan) continue to battle insurgency, ethnic violence and terrorism.
  • Sharpening competition among external powers: Countries such as China, the US, Japan, Türkiye, and UAE are competing for strengthening their relations with Africa to ensure –
    • Market access,
    • Gain energy and mineral security, and
    • Increase political and economic influence.

  

Challenges for India:

  • No clear Strategy/Vision
  • Africa is not the prime focus of India
  • Competing powers in Africa: For example, China enjoys consistent and robust relations with the continent since 2000 and is currently its biggest economic partner.
    • China’s role in Africa is recognised as ‘the infrastructure developer’, ‘the resource provider’, and ‘the financier.

   

Recommendations to strengthen India-Africa ties:

 

Political and diplomatic cooperation:

  • It should be strengthened by restoring periodic leaders’ summits through the medium of the India-Africa Forum Summit (not held since 2015).
  • A new annual strategic dialogue between the chairperson of the African Union (AU) and India’s External Affairs Minister should be launched in 2023.
  • Forging consensus among G-20 members on the AU’s entry into the G-20 as a full member.
  • The MEA should have a secretary exclusively in charge of African affairs to further enhance the implementation and impact of the African policy.

 

Defence and security cooperation:

  • The government needs to increase the number of defence missions deployed in Africa, widen the footprint of maritime collaboration, and expand lines of credit to facilitate defence exports.
  • More can be done to enhance cooperation on security and defence issues like counter-terrorism, cyber security and emerging technologies.

 

Economic and development cooperation:

  • India-Africa trade of $98 billion in FY22–23 can go up if access to finance through the creation of an Africa Growth Fund (AGF) is ensured.
  • A special package of measures
    • To improve project exports and build up cooperation in the shipping domain has been suggested.
    • To promote trilateral cooperation and deepen S&T cooperation.

 

Socio-cultural cooperation:

  • It should be increased through greater interaction between universities, think tanks, civil society and media organisations in India and select African countries.
  • Setting up a National Centre for African Studies will be the right step.
  • ITEC and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarships awarded to Africans should be named after famous African figures.
  • Visa measures for African students should be liberalised and should also be given work visas for short periods.

 

Way ahead:

  • A special mechanism for implementing the ‘Roadmap 2030’.
  • Clear Strategy for African Development
  • Continue the current focus on capacity building
  • Harness Indian civil society organisations, NGOs, and the Indian diaspora
  • Promote development-friendly private investments
  • Timely completion of projects
  • Address concerns about the academic experience in India
  • Improve the experiences of Africans in India

 

Conclusion:

  • To cater to the needs of a large continent like Africa, India must build partnerships with other countries along the lines of the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor – an economic cooperation agreement between India, Japan and multiple African countries.
  • India has a substantive partnership with Africa and a rich fund of goodwill, but it is essential for New Delhi to review its Africa policy periodically and place a razor-like focus on its implementation.

  

Insta Links:

India-Africa

 

Mains Links:

“If the last few decades were Asia’s growth story, the next few are expected to be Africa’s.” In light of this statement, examine India’s influence in Africa in recent years.  (UPSC 2021)