India and Africa will focus on enhancing trade and security during the upcoming third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS), which begins on October 26 in New Delhi.
The event, which is the biggest diplomatic affair, hosted by India in the last three decades aims to consolidate ties with Africa, which is endowed with large reservoirs of minerals and hydrocarbons. The areas of discussion between the two sides would include bolstering trade, enhancing security cooperation to combat threat of terrorism and exploring ways to deal with poverty, disease, illiteracy and hunger.
In the last 15 years India’s trade with Africa has gone up significantly: by nearly 20 times. The bilateral trade between India and Africa is USD 70 billion and India’s investment in Africa is between USD 30 to 35 billion in Africa. Africa is home to a 2.7 million strong Indian diaspora. India has extended concessional credit to the tune of USD 7.4 billion, most of which stands approved and at least half of which stands disbursed, according to India’s Secretary (West) Navtej Sarna. India has created nearly 137 projects in 41 African countries.
Pan-African e-network is one of the major capacity building projects that India has initiated in Africa for education and health purposes and this has been extremely successful. At present this is functional in 48 African countries.
With the rise of extremism globally, Africa has witnessed the rise of terror groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria, which has spread its wings to the neighbouring countries as well. Terrorism will be another major issue on the agenda at the IAFS. India has been actively involved in peacekeeping missions in Africa over the years and has also been strengthening cooperation in security with African countries.
Maritime security has been a key area of cooperation, which has been growing between India and Africa. India shares a maritime boundary with African countries in the Indian Ocean region. These areas are strategically very important for India. The Indian Navy has played a very significant role on the East Coast of Africa in guarding the trade routes, securing the coastline and even helping African nations organise international events by providing naval security.
India and Africa are also in the conceptual stage of working on blue economy. “Everybody talks of the green economy, we are very much part of that. But the blue economy, which is really the economy of the ocean, is extremely important to Africa. We have already started engaging. We have had discussions on the blue economy with Kenya, with Mozambique, with Tanzania, with Seychelles, with Mauritius. This would be developing the full potential of the oceans whether in terms of trade, security, energy, fisheries and so on. So, this is something which we have to also focus on and think about,” Mr Sarna said.
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