Africa Agenda 2063: How India may Deepen its Partnership
Amb Gurjit Singh

Agenda 2063 was crafted by the African Union (AU) for itself in 2013 at the golden jubilee of the OAU, founded in 1963.1 The ambitious Agenda 2063 is the new development compact of Africa where they seek increasing alignment of what they will endeavour to do to fulfil its vision. Its main aspirations are that Africa takes full responsibility for financing her development and improving Africa’s partnerships; Refocusing them to respond to African priorities for growth; and ensuring that the continent has the right strategies to reducing aid dependency. It seeks to refocus attention to Africa’s current needs and way forward for its development and progress.Theimplementation mechanism the AU has set is the First Ten Year Implementation Plan, with clear mandates mainly for intra African engagement.

The aspirations include some with which India is already engaged. These includecreating an Africa whose people grow inclusively and sustainably;support regional and Continental integration; the evolution of effective good governance; keeping peace and stability in Africa;recognizing African identity and unity within its diversity; creating development processes centered on people with special efforts to care for women and youth; and an Africa as an international partner.2

Due to the attention the African countries and the AU attach to it, it prominently featured in the India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) III documents in 2015. As India preparesfor the India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS IV), which may be delayed due to Covid-19, itmust take into consideration the rigours of the post Covid-19 situation. India also should think how, with its long-standing partnership with Africa, to have a more intense engagement with the Agenda 2063. The flagship projects set by Agenda 2063 perhaps need attention to see if India can align with some of them more deeply.

There are15 important projects flagged by Agenda 2063.This essay proposes to analyse them and what India does and can do further based on the processes set up under the IAFS.

Integrated High-Speed Train Network

The projects aimis toprovide connectivity among African capital other large cities. The African High-Speed Train Network would facilitate the transfer of passengers, cargo, and other services. The envisaged railway connectivity may reduce transportation costs and alleviate congestion of extant systems. 3

No doubt extremely ambitious, this is something that India with its level of appropriate technology and railway experience can join a plurilateral effort in Africa, there will be much that the Indian experience can contribute as well as cross investments by Indian companies in Make in Africa. Indian companies have already invested in concrete sleeper plants. A partnership with Japan, France or Germany could draw up a continental plan where regional railways will be built and joined. India should take an initiative in this and allocate funds for this effort by starting a feasibility study consortium. The railway can be of modern standard and cover both freight and passenger traffic and be a wider connectivity project since local areas are better served by trucking companies. The Chinese built Mombasa Nairobi4 and Addis Djibouti railways show the pitfalls in business plans for such efforts when faced with trucking lobbies operating on those routes. The regional railways should open new routes across countries not served by roads.

Plan for Better Valuation from Commodities for Africa

Africa’s exports are mainly primary commodities besides oil, gas, and minerals. Their prices are not always controlledby the producers. The plan for an African commodities strategy is important for value added services which could fetch higher returns from the export of commodities. The inclusion of these into global value chains, and diversification will be beneficial to African countries. These additional resources could be invested in African development.

The Duty-Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) scheme of India allows for the development of this idea. Indian FDI and joint ventures as well as agriculture cooperation as envisaged under the IAFS programmes could come together to establish new value chains as was done with Mozambique for pulses. This will enhance Indian FDI, create partnerships, support African agriculture, bring finance to rural households, and expand exports to India. This could be a win-win situation. India should announce a fund to support agriculture value chains for Indian companies to go to Africa and invest and use its grant programmes to undertake R&D and training programmes focused on theses’ value chains

Establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

This is expected to accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global marketplace. The AfCFTA aims to significantly accelerate growth of intra-African trade and use trade more effectively as an engine of growth and sustainable development by doubling such trade, strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.Its start has been impacted by Covid 195 but it still sees much aspiration.

In a survey of African people about India as a development partner6 FDI due to AfCFTA was a promising option. In fact, FDI from India is considered the most valuable asset by respondents in the Survey. The main option for India is to support FDI to target the growing intra African market. A Fund based on concessional finance for Indian FDI into Africa will be a high value approach for this. We should also integrate the grant projects with Indian FDI investors and link their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Indian grant funding to create training and capacity building institutes in Africa.

Free Movement of People Within Africa

The general commitments to permit visa free travel for Africans across borders into other African countries need to be converted to practical laws which can be implemented. The initiative isto have free movement of people within Africa as already done within some regional communities.32 countries have already signed the Protocol to The Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons. 7 This includes the Right of Residence and Establishment.

India should seek such free movement for Indian residents in African countries. It should also ask for business visas with greater ease of obtaining them and for movement in regions and then all over Africa for Indian businessmen. If the ease of movement emerging within Africa is not extended to Indian entrepreneurs, then it will become another Non-Tariff Barrier(NTB).

Silencing the Guns by 2020

To achieve peace and stability in Africa is a prime objective. Without it the goals of Agenda 2063 will not be realised. Africa has much to do to concluding wars, civil strife, violence against women, violent conflicts, and other such disruptive activity. There are many institutions from the AU Peace and Security Commission, the Panel of the Wise and the Regional Standby Forces but this remains work in progress. The challenges of terrorism and ISIS related violence are also severe.

India should continue to support these efforts including through grant support particularly to fight terrorism in the Sahel for instance; training teams and supply of defence equipment under more concessional LOCs could be sought. The good initiative for the India Africa Defence Ministers meeting and the joint exercise could be continued. India has good engagement with Mozambique, Tanzania Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia in recent years and this should be built up further. The role on Indian contingents in UNPKO missions is to be praised. Sale of defence equipment is an important area where more Indian efforts can ensue.

Implementing the Inga Dam Project

The Inga Dam project located in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a massive multi dam project. It has the potential to generate 43,200 MW of power. This cansupport regional power pools and contribute to transform Africa from traditional to modern sources of energy. With appropriate transmission programmes it can bring access of clean and affordable electricity to all of Africa.

This is a super-sized project which has been supported by Southern African Development Community (SADC) and New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). South Africa has taken the lead as a power purchaser and several agencies seem to be involved in the set of 7 dams which will form the world’s largest hydro power plan over the Congo River. We should aim to have Indian companies join these efforts and participate in the program. Separately, to take the lead in other such projects India should announce a development fund for consultancy where funds will be provided for Indian consulting companies to undertake feasibility studies and make bankable project reports. These charges could be recovered by the Indian company if the project comes to fruition. That will make this a revolving fund. This needs to be open to Indian consulting companies both public and private. Indian companies can avail of opportunities under Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) contracts, supply contracts, transmission, and other related projects. The consortium approach with trilateral partners will hold it in good stead.

Creating an African Unified Market for Air Services (SAATM)

The Single Air Transport Market (SAATM)is to provide intra-regional connectivity among African capital cities and create a single unified market for air transport services in Africa. This is important for the economic integration and growth agenda under the AEC. SAATM will liberalize African air transport services like market access, and rights for scheduled and freight air services.Eligibility criteria for African carriers, safety and security standards, fair competition and consumer protection would be covered.

Even as Indian trade and investment in Africa has risen, Indian airlines connections with Africa have been in retreat. Air India which flew to so many stations now barely fly to Nairobi. Even the rights accorded to African airlines like Ethiopian, Kenya, SAA, Air Mauritius, Air Seychelles, Rwanda Air and Air Tanzania have all not been regularly used except by Ethiopian; this is due to their own internal struggles for survival. The Gulf airlines like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have been the biggest beneficiaries of the India Africa passenger boom. This benefits neither Africa nor India. A more businesslike approach to code sharing between Air India and African airlines and better seamless connectivity through such partnerships is called for. Open skies policy toward African airlines could be announced.

Establishment of an Annual African Economic Forum

The Agenda hopes to establish an annual Forum which will focus on African Economic issues. It will bring together multiple stakeholders including the African political leaders, the private sector, academia, and civil society. They will discuss how Africa’s economic transformation using its own resourcescan achieve developmentin Africa. The forum will discuss the constraints that are faced for economic development and proposes measures to be taken.

There are significant fora like this which merit attention. India as a major partner should be regular part of such deliberations. The India Africa Project Partnership Conclave by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Exim Bank serves a useful purpose, but it needs to be a part of the African mega deliberations as well. An India team for such engagement with Africa at policy and business level could be instituted. India could once in 5 years host such a forum as India did for the AfDB in 2016.This will make India a firm part of plurilateral and trilateral efforts in Africa.

Establishing African Financial Institutions

The ambitions of the Agenda 2063 and the integration efforts underway need attention to creation of responsive institutions. African Financial Institutions can guide integration and socio-economic development of Africa. They willbe pivotal in the resourcemobilization and management of the financial sector. The financial institutions include the African Investment Bank; Pan African Stock Exchange; the African Monetary Fund and the African Central Bank.

Exim Bank has been engaging with African countries to advise them on setting up Development Finance Institutions. 8 The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange is modeled on the MCX9. This effort needs to be scaled up to set up African versions of Indian IDBI, NABARD and SIDBI. SEBI and NSE, with its multi city platform, can be other supporting institutions. India must step up such efforts to provide critical inputs into the African institutions, so they remain more Indian in design than European or Chinese. This requires determined and consistent action but mostly such Indian institutions have little interest in Africa. More trilateral agencies have ideas about linking Indian and African institutions and should be encouraged.

Strengthening the Pan African E-Network

The network envisages an Africa wide broad band terrestrial infrastructure. It will enunciate policies and strategies that will lead to better usage of e-applications and services in Africa. Cycler security will be its major focus too. The ideal is to ultimately transform Africa into an e-Society.

The experience India has with the Pan African network project gave us introduction to most African countries.10 The new version of these ( e-Arogya and e-Vidya Bharti) will help in fulfilling some of these goals but it is important that infrastructure created in African countries for the earlier PANEP and now for these projects, is integrated into the African Pan e network or it will be discarded in the future. India should not have a hands-off approach but through its Missions must engage with the AU and the countries where infrastructure was installed to put it to optimum use. India should also support the establishment of a pan African broad band and cyber security network by participating through a fund to promote the Indian digital experience. This should be a mix of grants and loans as well as FDI. This should also promote Indian success stories like Aadhar, Jan dhan and Ujjwala schemes.

Developing an Africa Outer Space Strategy

Africa has a desire to use space science to enhance its development. It can benefit critical sectors like agriculture, disaster management, remote sensing, weatherforecasting, finance, and security. Africa’s access to space technology is now seen as a necessity. Current developments in satellite technologies make this feasible. What are needed are encouraging policies and strategies to develop a market for space products in Africa.

India has offered the use of its space satellites for African use as in for weather forecasting. The effort to set up a weather forecasting centre in eastern Africa did not succeed after IAFS II.11 At IAFS III it was agreed that India will collaborate with Africa in uses of space technology for remote sensing and to map resources, weather forecasting, disaster management and disaster risk reduction including early warning of natural disasters. 12

The solution lies in constantly engaging with the ongoing African discussions on these issues on a regular basis; and there after see where India can contribute. The experience of how the PANEP was implemented will come in handy. India can offer to allocate spectrum on an Indian satellite for African use. India could build and launch a space satellite for Africa at concessional prices.

Expanding Education through a Virtual and E- University

Realizing the large effort required to attain much larger education coverage in Africa, this project will use ICT programmes to increase access to tertiary and continuing education. They will reachstudents and professionals in various sites simultaneously. It aims to offer students guaranteed access to the University from anywhere.13 the project is part ofseveralparallel programmes managed by the African Union Commission. These include the Pan African University, the Pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework (PAQAF), the Mwalimu Nyerere Scholarship Schemefor African students the AfricanEducation Strategy (2016-2025), and the Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy for Africa (2015-2024).14

India’s PANEP, and the successor e vidya Bharati, do precisely these attributes but somehow the AU has treated them as separate and never integrated them into the African virtual university. For Indian efforts to be sustainable we must integrate the e vidya Bharati into the proposed African e university. India’s general and specialized scholarship schemes and ITEC can also be better integrated and responsive to the PAVEU focus. India had committed at IAFS III to include newer areas in line with the opportunities and challenges arising in the Africa in key areas outlined in Agenda 2063.15 This needs to be discussed with the African side.

Cyber Security

The adoption of Cyber Security as a flagship programme of Agenda 2063 is an indicator that Africa needs to deal with challenges emerging from the incorporation of emerging technologies. Ensuring data protection and safety online has become very important. The Cyber Security project is guided by the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection.16The Convention has been delayed and needs many more ratifications. Till date 14 countries have signed but not ratified it while 5 have signed, ratified, and deposited it. Senegal, Mauritius, Mauritania, Ghana, and Guinea are those who have ratified. It still needs 10 more ratifications before coming into force so as a convention it’s a bit of a non-starter. The subjects are very important and the AU has started a programme with the Council of Europe Cybercrime Programme Office (C-PROC).

India has problems with cybercrime and has its own law to deal with it,The National Cyber Security Policy of 2013. This is a growing menace and India is engaging with several African countries in providing them training under ITEC, for instance at the CBI Academy,17 and the Central Academy for Police Training in Bhopal18. India needs to link up more surely with African countries in this effort since cybercrime is a common threat and India has the kind of capabilities that Africa may benefit from and allow a useful partnership to evolve. The training programmes offered should lead to institutional exchanges.

Great African Museum

The African Charter for African Cultural Renaissance recognises the important role that culture pays in mobilising and unifying people around common ideals and promoting African culture to build the ideals of Pan-Africanism. The Great African Museum project aims to create awareness about Africa’s vast, dynamic and diverse cultural artefacts and the influence Africa has had and continues to have on the various cultures of the world in areas such as art, music, language, science, and so on. The Great African Museum will be a focal centre for preserving and promoting the African cultural heritage.The Great Museum of Africa is planned to be launched in 2023 as part of the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063. The Museum of Africa Permanent Memorial of Slave Trade will showcase, protect, and promote the rich cultural heritage of the continent. The Museum will be hosted by Algeria, on behalf of the continent. It has a budget of $ 57 million, which remains the basic challenge for which a business plan is likely to be offered to AU partners.

This idea is one where India may offer the services of experts to participate in the organisation of the Museum. Special training programmes may also be offered.

Work on Encyclopedia Africana

The Encyclopaedia Africana is expected to provide an authentic history of Africa and African life. The Encyclopaedia will likely give Africa its own determination of its foundations in all aspect of the African life. This will includehistory, economy, religion, architecture, and education as well as the sociology of African societies. It will be the academic freedom that Africa seeks.

‘The Encyclopaedia Africana provides an African worldview of the people, culture, literature and history of Africa and is a key tool to be used to educate, inform and set the records straight regarding the history, culture and contributions of African people throughout the world.’19

India has no direct role in this, but the support of Indian researchers, academics and study visits could be included under cultural exchanges. The involvement of Indian researchers is important if the Western, Chinese, and other views are not going to be allowed to dominate the narrative. To keep the Indian story alive, we must do it ourselves and not depend on the UK to recall the colonial linkages of India.


There is a growing expectation in Africa of a dependable partner as I saw in the survey that I conducted in Africa recently. The Indian private sector, academia, Civil Society Organizations and the like have much enthusiasm to do more with Africa and grasp its opportunities. What this need is a dialogue to beestablished with a wider constituency in India as well as in Africa. Toachieve some of these ideas, India needs to establish ajoint commission with the African Union and its agencies on all these aspects. This India Africa Dialogue should be at official and expert level and held twice a year, once in Africa and another In India. This should be a subset of the IAFS and create subcommittees to deal with specific areas of cooperation that may emerge. Implementation can be done through existingmechanisms, but the thought processes need a more consistent partnership dialogue between India and Africa.

This is one way of keeping a constant touch outside the official circles with Africa supported by the governmental resources. At present Africa policy runs from Summit to Summit and now that more frequent VVIP visits are taking place, they prudently work from Visit to Visit. What is lacking is a consistent attention whichprevents fulsome thinking of new engagements. The proposed dialogue mechanism could be one way of creating such a new format with a focus on Agenda 2063. This will show responsiveness to African aspirations.

  1. Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. AU Accessed at on 4 June 2020
  2. Goals & Priority Areas of Agenda 2063, AU Accessed at on 4 June 2020
  3. Flagship Projects of Agenda 2063, AU Accessed at on 4 June 2020
  4. Mohamed Yusuf: Cost of China-built Railway Haunts Kenya: 26 February 2020, VOA Accessed at 4 June 2020
  5. Simon Marks: Coronavirus hits Africa’s mega trade deal plans; Politico, 23 March 2020, Accessed at on 24 April 2020
  7. Protocol to The Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons: AU Accessed at 4 June 2020
  8. Exim Bank's Financing Initiatives and Activities in Africa
    Debasish Mallick, Deputy Managing Director, Export-Import Bank of India, Exim Blogs, Accessed at 8 April 2020
  9. In 2006, the DPM of Ethiopia led a team to Mumbai to study the MCX to adapt it to their emerging ECX.
  10. See Touching Lives in Gurjit Singh: The Injera and the Parantha; 84, Shama Books Addis Ababa 2009
  11. Establishment of India Africa Centre for Medium Range Weather Prediction, Ministry of Earth Sciences, 4 June 2015, Accessed at on 17 March,2020
    IAFS III Framework for Strategic Cooperation 2015, para 22
  12. Flagship Projects of Agenda 2063, No 12, AU Accessed at on 4 June 2020
  13. The Pan African Virtual and E-university, AU, Accessed at on 9 May 2020
  15. Flagship Projects of Agenda 2063, No 13, AU Accessed at on 4 June 2020
  16. ITEC; MEA, Accessed at
  17. Ibid
  18. Flagship Projects of Agenda 2063, No 15, AU Accessed at on 4 June 2020

(The paper is the author’s individual scholastic articulation. The author certifies that the article/paper is original in content, unpublished and it has not been submitted for publication/web upload elsewhere, and that the facts and figures quoted are duly referenced, as needed, and are believed to be correct). (The paper does not necessarily represent the organisational stance... More >>

Image Source:




Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
1 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.
Contact Us