Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) Conference on ‘India's Foreign Policy towards African Continent in the 21st Century: Prospects for Cooperation’, on 20 Nov 2019
Opening Remarks by Dr Arvind Gupta, Diector, VIF

H. E. Mr. Alem Tsehaye Woldemariam, Ambassador of the State of Eritrea and Dean of the African Ambassador in India, H. E. Dr. Tizita Mulugeta, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, H. E. Mr. Ahmed H M Gebreel, Charge-de-Affairs of the State of Libya, H. E. Mrs. Tahina Rasamoelina Charge d Affaires of the Republic of Madagascar, H.E. Major General Chris Sunday Eze, High Commission of the Republic of Nigeria, H E Mr. Ernest Rwamucyo, High Commission of Rwanda, H.E. Hon. Faduma Abdullahi Mohamud, Ambassador of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Somalia, H. E. Mr. Sibusiso Ndebele, High Commissioner of South Africa, High Commissioner H.E. Mrs. Judith K K Kan'goma-Kapijimpanga, Zambia, Amb. Anil Trighunayat, Amb. Shashank, Prof. Ajay Dubey, Amb Rajagopalan and Prof Rajan Harse, I would like to welcome you all for participating in today’s conference on ‘India's Foreign Policy towards African Continent in the 21st Century: Prospects for Cooperation’.

India’s relation with Africa has recently entered into a new phase. Both have a great degree of commonalities in terms of a shared history, and current challenges. In the recent past, we have taken a number of initiatives to further deepen our association and strengthen our foreign policy towards Africa. The India Africa Forum Summit 2015 (The fourth IAFS submit will take place in New Delhi next year) marked a new beginning in our approach to engage with African countries in a more constructive manner. Out of a commitment of 50,000 slots for capacity building over five years, we have done more than 40,000 already. Out of a grant commitment of USD 600 million over five years, we have already exceeded the target in three and a half years itself, and out of the Lines of Credit target of USD 10 billion, we have pledged more than USD 6 billion already.

Prime Minister Modi, in his speech before Ugandan Parliament, outlined the ‘Ten Principles’ which will continue to guide India’s engagement with Africa. He stressed that Africa will be at the top of our priorities and our engagement will be sustained and regular. The fact that close to 30 visits at the level of the Hon’ble President, Hon’ble Vice President and Prime Minister have already taken place to Africa in the last five years, attests to this priority. India has become the fifth largest investor in Africa with cumulative investments at USD 54 billion. Sizeable investments have been made in Oil and Gas, mining, banking, pharma, textiles and other sectors in African countries. Our trade with Africa has increased to $ 62.16 billion (2017-18), an increase of nearly 22 percent from the previous year.

The Government of India has taken several steps to strengthen relations with African countries. After South Asia, the African continent is the largest recipient of Indian overseas assistance. 181 Lines of Credit have been extended to 41 countries for a total amount of more than 11 billion dollars, which is 42 percent of the total amount under Lines of Credit. Under our development cooperation programmes, India has undertaken power projects and dams in Sudan and Rwanda to water treatment in Tanzania, sugar factories in Ethiopia and IT Parks in Mozambique and Swaziland. During India-Africa Forum Summit-I (IAFS-I) held in 2008 at New Delhi, it was decided to establish Vocational Training Centres (VTCs)/Incubation Centres (ICs) in 10 African countries. Seven vocational training centres have been established (Ethiopia, Rwanda, Madagascar, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Egypt). 6 IT Centres were established in South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Lesotho, Ghana, Namibia and Tanzania, besides a Centre for Geo-informatics Application in Rural Development (CGARD) Technology Centre in Madagascar and another in Zimbabwe were established. Entrepreneurship Centres are being set up in some countries. Several similar projects are at various stages of execution. During the International Solar Alliance (ISA), 27 specific solar projects in 15 countries worth $1.4 billion were announced. Of these, a billion dollars are for African countries. Thirteen projects worth $143 million in eight countries are complete, or under implementation.

India sources nearly 18 percent of its crude oil and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) requirement mostly from the West African region. We import crude oil from Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Chad and Sudan/South Sudan and LNG from Nigeria. We are into Oil exploration in Sudan/South Sudan, Gabon, Libya and LNG and coal mining in Mozambique etc. South Africa and Ghana supply more than a quarter of our total coal requirements. The Duty Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) Scheme announced by India for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) benefitted African nations and has contributed towards steady increase in our trade figures by extending duty-free access to 98.2 percent of India’s total tariff lines. 38 African countries enjoy the benefits of our DFTP Scheme. The Indian e-visa facility has been extended to cover more than 33 African countries though there is much more we can do by way of enhancing air-connectivity between India and Africa. We are confident that with the opening of 18 new Missions in Africa, India’s physical presence will substantially increase.

India provided the largest contingent for the UN peacekeeping operation since our first mission in Congo in 1960. Since then, India has been part of UN Peace Keeping Operations in Namibia, Somalia, Angola, Rwanda, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 70 percent of the Indian peace keepers who have made the supreme sacrifice have laid down their lives in Africa. Consequently, it may come as no surprise that in the face of increasing cross border terrorism, piracy, armed robbery at sea, hijacking of ships, etc., India should be a natural partner with Africa to fight this together. Moreover, it is also important to strengthen our cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism; keeping our cyberspace safe and secure; and support the UN in advancing and keeping peace.

By adopting the Continental Free Trade Agreement in July this year, the African continent have shown the world what reformed multilateralism can mean. They have changed the narrative in the world of trade and investment, and put themselves squarely in the path of economic progress. And as internal barriers between the African nations break down, a world of opportunities will open up for all countries around the world. In this Age of Disruptions, this Continental Free Trade Agreement has the potential to be a game changer. As it is, among the top ten countries of the world which are growing fast, half of them are African countries (MEA 2019).

India has also worked closely with African partners on issues relating to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Agenda 2063.<./i> India’s development co-operation with Africa reflects African priorities, for a future of a more prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

The Indian diaspora in Africa is estimated to be around three million in Africa. The largest Indian diaspora is in South Africa, Mauritius, Reunion Islands, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. Under PM Modi’s leadership, India’s engagement with the Indian diaspora in African countries has acquired new salience, enabling a shift from the policy of ‘active-disassociation’ in previous decades, to ‘proactive association’ in recent years. There is a great scope for a greater synergy between India and Africa in order to achieve our shared goal of bringing a transformation, which would go a long way in improving the quality of lives of the people. The several initiative adopted by the Government is a clear signal of enhancing their engagement with each other and strengthening our foreign policies towards the African continent.

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