New Delhi: India has been cooperating with African countries to counter the “growing threats” posed to their societies by radicalism and terrorism and the two sides are expected to hold the second conclave of defense ministers, the Minister of Defense said on Tuesday. Foreign S Jaishankar.
Besides maritime defense and security cooperation, India and African countries must jointly respond to a “volatile and uncertain world” in the aftermath of the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the fallout from the Ukrainian conflict, said he declared.
Jaishankar made the remarks at an event organized by the Indian Global Affairs Council to mark the release of the book India-Africa Relations: Changing Horizons by former Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia. India’s ties are particularly strong with societies on Africa’s eastern coast and have been nurtured by the monsoon-fed Indian Ocean ecosystem, he said.
“We are acutely aware of the growing threats posed by radicalism, fundamentalism and terrorism to African societies. These have been the focus of our contemporary cooperation program,” Jaishankar said.
The first India-Africa Defense Ministers Conclave, held in February 2020, institutionalized defense cooperation between the two sides. The second edition of this advocacy dialogue was proposed for March this year but was postponed due to unavoidable circumstances. Jaishankar hoped he would stand soon.
He described the ongoing maritime defense and security cooperation as a natural extension of the ties between the two sides, and said that India was associated with the establishment of defense institutions in Nigeria, Ethiopia and the United States. Tanzania. Indian military training teams have worked with their counterparts in Botswana, Lesotho, Zambia, Uganda, Namibia, Tanzania, Mauritius and the Seychelles, and growing maritime security cooperation is centered around Mauritius and Seychelles and also extends to coastal African nations.
“The challenges of countering piracy, counter-narcotics and terrorism are increasingly seen as a common problem. India is guided by the SAGAR doctrine and has often been a first responder in HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) situations,” Jaishankar said.
A longstanding facet of defense contacts is through United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa, and India has undertaken 12 such missions on the continent. Currently, 4,483 Indians serve in five peacekeeping missions in Congo, Morocco, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia.
“Today, our relations must also respond to the unstable and uncertain world we face. There are important lessons to be learned from the disruption of the pandemic. Tensions related to the ripple effects of the conflict in Ukraine are also relevant,” Jaishankar said.
India and Africa can work together on reliable and resilient supply chains, and these are “important hubs in the decentralized globalization that the international community so badly needs”, he said. The emphasis on trust and transparency makes India and African states natural partners in technology, and India’s vision of cooperation with Africa “will increasingly focus on health, digital and green growth,” he said.
On political issues, India shares the “frustration of international organizations that are not representative of contemporary reality”, and believes that Africa must have an adequate presence and voice in global decision-making, including in a reformed UN Security Council, Jaishankar said. “And in turn, we are counting on Africa to defend a partner with whom it has a past, a present and a future,” he said.
India also believes that Africa’s growth and progress are intrinsic to global rebalancing, and that the world will only become truly multipolar when the continent reaches its true potential, Jaishankar stressed.
Jaishankar also spoke at length about India’s development partnership in Africa, where the country has completed 189 projects, with 76 others at the implementation stage and 68 others at the pre-implementation stage. These projects have been funded with lines of credit worth over $12 billion and span over 40 countries.
Notable projects include the railway line and presidential palace in Ghana, the National Assembly building in The Gambia, the Rivatex textile factory in Kenya, the express metro project in Mauritius and the Mahatma Gandhi Convention Center in Niger.
The Pan-African e-Network was launched in 2009 and its first phase was completed in 2017. A total of 19 countries have signed Memoranda of Understanding to become partners in the tele-education and tele-medicine networks, and in the past five years, six computer centers have been established in South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Lesotho, Ghana, Namibia and Tanzania, as well as a center for geo-informatics applications for rural development in Madagascar and Niger.
India is now Africa’s fourth largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth $69.7 billion in 2018-19. “This has obviously been impacted during the Covid years but we expect a strong recovery. India’s announced Duty Free Tariff Preference Program (DFTP) has benefited African nations by extending duty free access to 98.2% of India’s total tariff lines,” Jaishankar said.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which came into effect in January 2021, is expected to increase trade volumes, and India also ranks fifth in investment with a cumulative commitment of 70.7 billion of dollars. Indian industry has made significant commitments in oil and gas, mining, banking, textiles, automobiles and agriculture.