Ahead of the fourth India-Africa Forum Summit next year, senior officials from the two global hubs of growth are set to hold a wide-ranging review meeting to appraise progress in implementing key commitments of IAFS-III, and to map the way ahead for this mutually empowering partnership.
Senior Indian officials handling Africa in India’s Ministry of External Affairs, led by Mr T.S. Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Relations), will brainstorm for two days this week with African Union officials to fructify the promises made at the last summit in October 2015.
This will be the first-ever review meeting ever since the India-Africa Forum Summit process was launched in the summer of 2018, and underlines the joint resolve of the two emerging regions to add more economic and strategic content to this multi-faceted partnership.
Enhancing Security Partnership
The overarching focus of the review meeting will be on deepening development partnership under the ambit of South-South cooperation and to intensify India‘s security and defence partnership with African countries.
Leveraging on a growing recognition of India’s credentials as a net security provider in the region, India will be focusing on deepening security partnership with African countries, especially littoral African states. India is looking at enhancing defence and security cooperation with African countries in the backdrop of the rise of terrorism and radicalization in the region, Mr Tirumurti told India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org). He added that India has recently received many requests from African countries for Indian Military Training Teams to be deputed to their National Defence Academies. India has played vital role in promoting peace and stability across the African continent through peacekeeping missions. Today, over 5,000 Indians serve in five peacekeeping operations in Africa. In a new milestone, Indian women established the first all-female Police Unit of the United Nations in Liberia.
Mr Tirumuthi is broadly satisfied with the progress in implementing key outcomes of IAFS-III and is confident that the review meeting will only accelerate this process, setting the stage for a substantive agenda for the 4th India-Africa Forum Summit. Out of $10 billion in Lines of Credit committed by India at IAFS-III, around $6 billion have been already pledged for projects in various African countries. Out of a commitment of 50,000 slots for capacity building over 5 years, India has already provided over 40,000 slots already.
“What is equally heartening is that our quality of implementation has been considerably enhanced along with the increasing pace of implementation,” Mr Tirumurti, India’s chief pointsperson for India-Africa relations, said at a conference on India-Africa relations in New Delhi recently.
India’s diplomatic outreach to Africa has acquired an unprecedented momentum and energy, with a record number of 32 high-level visits India to Africa taking place between 2014-2019 at the level of Prime Minister, President and Vice-President. The decision by the Indian government to open 18 new Indian Missions in Africa over a four-year period from 2018-2021 will raise the number of Resident Indian Missions in Africa from 29 to 47, and thus provide more resources and ballast to expand India’s diplomatic footprints in a rising continent. India has already opened 6 of the 18 missions in Africa.
The Road Ahead
Looking ahead, Mr Tirumurthi stressed on enhancing the quality of India’s engagement with Africa through fast-tracking delivery of joint projects and ensuring they are in sync with norms of sustainable development. He underlined the need for steering forward the India-Africa engagement in the broad framework of South-South cooperation, and in accordance with 10 Guiding Principles for India-Africa engagement, as enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his defining address to the Ugandan parliament last year.
India has made it cleat that it will join hands in Africa’s pursuance of “Africa-owned” and “Africa-led” development through “a partnership model that is demand driven, consultative, and participative, involves local resources, builds capacity and is based on Africa’s own prioritisation of its needs,” said Mr Tirumurti.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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