Africa Day is celebrated across the world on May 25 to mark the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity and a rising continent’s liberation from the yoke of imperialism and colonialism. This year, the continent, like the rest of the world, will pledge to liberate itself from the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic, which has cast a long shadow over the region and the world.
The pandemic may have interrupted the Africa Growth Story momentarily, but the medium and long-term prospects of the continent still look bright. Similarly, India, the fastest-growing major emerging economy, has suffered ravages of the pandemic, but its people and leaders have shown rare vision and courage to script a new chapter in the country’s development journey. In the middle of the festering pandemic, there are countless stories of human resilience and heroism, along with acts of solidarity, that open new avenues of cooperation between India and Africa.
Against this larger backdrop, India and World magazine and India Writes Network is organising a virtual conference on the Africa Day (May 25), entitled “Mapping Next Steps in India-Africa Partnership: Pandemic & Beyond.” As the theme suggests, the conference will focus on enhancing India-Africa cooperation in the immediate context of the pandemic and also in the post-COVID economic recovery. Taking a long-range view, the virtual seminar will seek to map the future trajectory of the India-Africa partnership in accordance with 10 principles of the India-Africa partnership outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his defining speech to the Ugandan parliament in July 2018. The discussions will explore how the India-Africa Partnership can align with Africa’s Agenda 2063, which crystallises the continent’s vision of its own resurgence.
The Webinar, the new medium of conducting diplomacy and discourse, brings together eminent diplomats, experts and thought leaders from not just India and Africa, but across continents. Mr Rahul Chhabra, India’s High Commissioner to Kenya and Ambassador to Somalia, will address the conference from the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
What Mr Chhabra says will be watched closely in Africa and among those who follow India-Africa relations closely as he is set to take charge as Secretary (Economic Relations) in India’s Ministry of External Affairs. In this crucial position, Mr Chhabra will be in charge of Africa and will also be India’s Sherpa for BRICS and IBSA. He will also be in charge of India’s development partnership as well as global trade and investment
Mr Chhabra will succeed Mr T.S. Tirumurti, who has already taken charge as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Conceptualised and planned by Manish Chand, Founder-CEO of India Writes Network and India Writes Network, the conference will be the first international webinar focused on Africa which will be hosted from India since the pandemic erupted. “The conference will highlight shared dreams and aspirations of over 2 billion people of India and Africa. In keeping with India’s traditionally strong bonds of friendship and solidarity with Africa, which has scaled new heights in the last few years, India has supplied packages of medicines to more than 25 countries in Africa,” said Mr Chand, also the author of Two Billion Dreams and Engaging with a Resurgent Africa.”
The virtual conference features a galaxy of eminent diplomats and experts who are leaders in their chosen fields. (Pl. see banner)
Ahead of the Webinar, Alem Tsehaye Woldemariam, Eritrea’s Ambassador to India and Dean of African Group Heads of Missions in New Delhi, told India Writes Network: “The theme for this year’s celebration is Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development. Sadly, however, instead of taking stock of achievements and challenges to efforts over the years relating to the theme for the celebrations, we have been confronted by a different kind of war – the Novel Coronavirus disease or Covid-19.”
Underlining the importance of an exchange of ideas between India and Africa in these distressing times, Uganda’s High Commissioner to India Grace Akello said: “COVID-19 has shaken global complacency and is causing countries to examine afresh their domestic as well as external policies and actions in all sectors. African countries and India are no exception to this post-crisis soul-searching,” said the Ugandan envoy.
“It is crucial for a post-COVID world to have strong friendly bilateral as well as multilateral relations between and among countries on Planet Earth. Such webinars as this, are a contribution to defining such relationships,”’ she said.
The Road Ahead
“The conference will have a future-looking agenda and is expected to culminate in a blueprint for advancing India- Africa partnership in combating the coronavirus pandemic as well in reconstruction during the post-pandemic period,” said Mr Chand.
In particular, the India-Africa Webinar will focus on the following themes/issues:
- In what ways can India and Africa expand cooperation in combating the coronavirus pandemic? Review of existing cooperation as well as suggestions.
- How can India and Africa work together in post-pandemic economic recovery and reconstruction? Role of EXIM Bank in advancing development cooperation.
- The UN will celebrate the 75th anniversary in September this year. In what ways can India and Africa coordinate to spur reform of the global governance architecture, including the UN, UN Security Council and the WHO?
- In what ways BRICS and emerging powers play in the post-COVID reconstruction of Africa?
- The India-Africa Forum Summit IV is expected to be held by the end of the year. Possible agenda & Outcomes for IAFS IV.
- Moving beyond the pandemic, what are Next Steps in the India-Africa partnership?
The discussions at the conference will be published in the next edition of India and the World, a prestigious magazine-journal focused on international affairs, published by India Writes Network & TGII Media Private Limited.
AFRICA DAY WEIBINAR | NEXT STEPS IN INDIA-AFRICA PARTNERSHIP | MAY 25, 11.30-1 PM | INDIA AND THE WORLD
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