Amid the uncertain trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic, India has sought to brand its engagement with the African continent around “co-capabilities and co-benefits,” and outlined key facets of the post-pandemic India-Africa partnership, which will include prominent focus on public health and digital delivery.
“As we seek to come out of the Covid pandemic, this partnership assumes an even greater salience,” External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said at the inauguration of the 16th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India and Africa Project Partnership, which is themed “”Harnessing the Africa-India Opportunity: Connect, Create and Collaborate.”
“In a post-Covid scenario, there are four domains that should become the focus of our collaborative activities: (i) public health, (ii) digital delivery, (iii) skilling and capacity building, and (iv) green economy,” said Mr Jaishankar.
Alluding to the ten principles enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the Ugandan National Assembly in 2018, the minister said that India’s activities and initiatives are designed to respond to the needs of Africa and the priorities of its people. “It envisages co-capabilities and co-benefits, while promoting local ownership. As a result, we see a unique level of trust that is even more valuable as we contemplate the challenges ahead,” he said.
The minister highlighted “inequity in access to medicines and vaccines” and argued for enhancing public health partnership between the two growth poles of the world. “On its part, India envisages health cooperation as reflecting our Global South solidarity. Prime Minister Modi’s call for “One Earth One Health” approach underlines our continuing commitment, already evident in the supply of medicines and vaccines to many nations of Africa,” he said.
Placing India’s burgeoning partnership with Africa in the context of the larger South-South solidarity, the minister said: “India has always maintained that the progress of the world is contingent on the development of the Global South. Nowhere is that more evident than in Africa.”
“The coronavirus pandemic may have impacted execution of India-supported projects in Africa due to logistical constraints. But the pandemic has not impacted India’s enthusiasm for engaging Africa during this difficult period, which illuminates deep bonds of solidarity between India and Africa,” said Manish Chand, a veteran Africa expert and Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network and India and The World magazine.
“In fact, India’s diplomatic outreach to various African countries during the pandemic, albeit virtually, has been unprecedented. Between them, Prime Minister Modi, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar and MOS V. Muraleedharan and other senior diplomats of the Ministry of External Affairs, have had a digital interaction will nearly all African countries,” said Mr Chand, Editor of Two Billion Dreams, a defining book on multi-faceted India-Africa relations.
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