Fortnightly Review and Analysis: Iran, West Asia, Eurasia, Central Asian Republics (CAR) & Africa (Vol 2 Issue VI)

March, 16- 31, 2017

Central Asian Republics (CAR)

President Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan Visits Kazakhstan

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan paid an official visit to the neighboring Central Asian Republic (CAR) of Kazakhstan on 22-23 March. This was his second state visit since his election as the President in December 2016. Earlier this month, he paid visit to another CAR of Turkmenistan. This highlights the significance the new Uzbek leader attaches to other CARs. These three republics put together account for more than 95% of the Central Asian economy. Moreover, these CARs along with other regional powers have embarked upon various projects for enhancing trans-national and regional connectivity. On this backdrop, the two consecutive visits of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan by the Uzbek President deserve special attention. These visits reiterate President Mirziyoyev’s call for greater cooperation among the CARs.

During visit, President Mirziyoyev held one-on-one discussions with the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Leaders of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan signed a joint declaration to deepen the strategic partnership, and an agreement on joint economic cooperation for 2017-2019. In addition, agreement of cooperation was also signed between the foreign ministries and defense ministries. Economic relations and trade was the priority agenda for this visit. Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan trade has increased by 30% in last 6 months, and is expected to increase further. This was possible because of newly elected president’s decision to lift the trade barriers. The First Business Forum between the two countries was organized on 23 March, where more than 500 Uzbek and Kazakh entrepreneurs took part, and as many as 75 contracts worth $1 billion were signed.

Security was another aspect, which was discussed between the Presidents of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and rising menace of terrorism cause concerns for both countries in particular and the Central Asian region in general. Both countries pledged cooperation in fight against terrorism. Both sides attached great significance to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in dealing with the trans-national threats, and in restoring stability in the region.

India- Kyrgyzstan Conducted Joint Military Exercise ‘Khanjar-IV’ in Kyrgyzstan

Joint Military Exercise between India and Kyrgyzstan, termed as ‘Khanjar-IV’, was held in Kyrgyzstan in February-March 2017. This was fourth round of the Khanjar series, which was launched in 2011. During his visit to Bishkek in July 2015, Prime Minister Modi announced that the exercises should become an annual event then after. Joint military exercises are held alternately in India and Kyrgyzstan.

India and Kyrgyzstan have cultivated high degree of military cooperation, through joint training, arms and ammunitions supply, information and experience sharing, and joint exercises. During President Atambayev’s visit to New Delhi in December 2016,MoUon youth exchange was signed between the National Cadet Corps and the Military Academy in Kyrgyzstan. The security personnel from both countries have also conducted joint mountaineering expeditions. Both sides have benefitted significantly from respective experiences in Special Forces Counter Terrorism operations in mountainous terrain.

Africa

Nigerian Students Attacked in Greater Noida, India

On 24th March, 2017, the residents of an enclave in Greater Noida allegedly barged into a flat occupied by the Nigerian students accusing them of kidnapping and murder of a 17 year-old boy. The next morning on 25th March, the boy was found lying in the park nearby. He was rushed to the hospital where he passed away. The cause of death of the boy was stated to be "unknown poisoning". Even after the boy was found, his parents registered an FIR against five African students on charges of murder, abduction and doing drugs. On 27th March 2017, three students were attacked by a large group, that had taken out a protest march over the death of a 17-year-old schoolboy. In a second attack the same evening, four Nigerian student was assaulted by a mob inside a mall in Greater Noida. The students were beaten with a steel dustbin and stools, and repeatedly punched and kicked by the attackers. Later on, several African students were attacked by the mob, a crime for which seven of them had been arrested. Taking swift action, the Greater Noida police booked over 1000 people and arrested five in connection with some Nigerian nationals being thrashed by locals in the city following the death of a teenager. Locals claimed that boy died due to drug overdose and held the members of the African community responsible for the incident.

Nigeria Tops India’s Africa Export with $9.949 Billion

Head of Chancery at the High Commission of Indian, Lagos, Mr. Jagdeep Kapoor stated that Nigeria has continued to outpace other African countries in export to India with $9.949 billion in exports. This represents 31.4 per cent of the total export to India from Africa. He also mentioned that the visit of the Indian Vice President to Nigeria last year has given a boost to India-Nigeria bilateral relations. India is Nigeria’s largest trading partner and the total trade between the two countries in the financial year 2015-16 was $643.3 Billion. Crude oil is the largest item exported from Nigeria to India, while Vehicles, Pharmaceutical products and Machinery is the largest items exported from India to Nigeria. The figure was released in a document which was distributed during the 12th Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)- Export-Import (EXIM) Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership in India early this month in Delhi

World Bank Pledges $57 Billion for Projects in Africa

The World Bank has announced that it will provide $57 billion in financing for Sub-Saharan Africa. According World Bank Group president, Jim Yong Kim, the funds will go towards a vast number of projects over the next three fiscal years. Done for the development of the continent and also to substantially expand programmes in education, basic health services, clean water and sanitation, agriculture, business climate, infrastructure and institutional reform. This is basically done to help the sub-Saharan African countries reach their full potential by tackling conflict, climate change and gender inequality. The funding is expected to be rolled out from July 1 this year to June 30, 2020.

Uganda Ready to Host the 13th India-Africa Business Forum

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has offered Uganda's readiness to host the 13th India-Africa Business Forum on behalf of the African continent. This is after the 12th India-Africa Project Partnership Conclave which was held in New Delhi on 9th and 10th March. According to Prime Minister of Uganda, the Indian community is playing a 'significant role in the economy with their involvement in the agriculture, manufacturing and hospitality industries. Thus, in a separate meeting with the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee after the opening of the forum, Mr. Rugunda mentioned that the decision to take the forum to Africa would be further testimony to the deepening business ties between the two regions.