[op-ed snap] This time for Africa

source:

Note4Students:

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Africa has been in focus since last decade as its untapped potential is slowly becoming visible to world. The op-ed discusses India’s relationship with Africa in last 3 years, India-japan cooperation in Africa’s development and associated problems. Note down important points discussed in op-ed to use in Mains.

From UPSC perspective, following things are important:

Prelims level: African Development Bank, Asia Africa Growth Corridor, India-Africa Forum Summit, other organisations and countries mentioned.

Mains level: India-Africa relations, China angle in Indian inclination towards Africa and other related issues.


News:

  1. India-Africa engagement is getting stronger with the active involvement of political and business leaders of both sides
  2. This was reflected in deliberations at the annual meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) recently

Confidence towards India:

  1. AfDB’s decision to hold its meeting here in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, demonstrated its confidence in recent achievements and future prospects of the Indian economy
  2. It also confirmed Africa’s growing interest in connecting more extensively with India Inc
  3. This conference came against the backdrop of the historic third India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015 when all 54 African nations had sent their representatives, 41 of them at the level of head of state or government

Appreciation of foreign tours:

  1. African governments have also been appreciative of Indian leaders’ unprecedented readiness to visit Africa
  2. In the past two years, the President, the Vice President and the Prime Minister have visited 16 African countries in the east, west, north and south.

A growth corridor:

  1. Mr. Modi released a vision document on the “Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)”
  2. Study conducted by: This study was jointly produced by three research institutions of India and Japan — Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), New Delhi; the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), Jakarta, and the Institute of Developing Economies Japan External Trade Organisation (IDE-JETRO), Japan — in consultation with other Asian and African think tanks
  3. What it says? It envisages closer engagement between India and Africa for “sustainable and innovative development”, and will be anchored to four pillars: development and cooperation projects; quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity; enhancing capacities and skills; and people-to-people partnership
  4. Priority areas: The AAGC will accord priority to development projects in health and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro-processing, disaster management, and skill enhancement
  5. Special focus: It will have special focus on the following geographies: Africa, India and South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania
  6. Preferences: This study indicates a preference for turning the 21st century into an Asian-African century, and not just an Asian century

Synergy between India and Japan:

  1. Convinced of the rising importance of the Indo-Pacific region as “the key driver for prosperity of the world”, the two leaders (Mr. Modi and Mr. Shinzo Abe) decided “to seek synergy” between India’s Act East Policy and Japan’s “Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure”
  2. How it would work? This synergy would be reflected in better regional integration, improved connectivity and industrial networks
  3. Collaboration: The strategy encompasses India-Japan collaboration for accelerating development in Africa together with other like-minded countries such as the United States, Germany, France and probably the United Arab Emirates and Singapore

Differences in approach- China and India:

  1. Counter to OBOR? AAGC excited many observers and a few in the media asked experts whether this would be India’s answer to China’s One Belt One Road, who responded in negative way.
  2. Approaches of India and China towards Africa are essentially different
  3. China concentrates on infrastructure and cheque-book diplomacy, whereas India promotes a broader spectrum of cooperation projects and programmes focussed on the development of Africa’s human resources
  4. China goes solo, while India is desirous of working with other willing nations to assist Africa as per the latter’s priorities
  5. Limitless possibilities: While committed to a voluntary partnership with Africa, India is not “prescriptive” and this enlightened approach offers “limitless possibilities” for India-Africa cooperation

Challenges for India and Japan in Africa:

  1. Less time at disposal: India and Japan do not have the luxury of time in view of China’s rapidly expanding footprint in Africa
  2. Urgent action required: An urgent need exists for them to increase the scope of their development projects, create synergy among themselves, engage proactively with other willing partners, and thus turn the concept of the AAGC into a viable reality
  3. Start pilot projects: If New Delhi and Tokyo are anxious to make a difference, the most important task for them is to immediately initiate a few joint pilot projects involving the companies of India, Japan and a few African countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Mozambique in identified areas such as health care, agriculture and blue economy
  4. Unless results become visible in the short term, questions may arise about the credibility of their joint approach.

An Abe-Modi plan for Africa

source:

Note4Students:

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

While China has been able to attract all global powers towards its OBOR initiative, this increases tensions for India from various viewpoints. Japan also faces similar fate as India in terms of relations with China (Senkaku Islands dispute) and a foe’s foe is a friend. Let the issue develop further and we will discuss it in detail once some op-eds come up related to it.

From UPSC perspective, following things are important:

Prelims level:  Asia Africa Growth Corridor, Mombasa port (Mark it on map and note related geographical features)

Mains level: India Africa relations. Also try to explore them from the prism of China and Japan involvement in African subcontinent and what it means for India. India Japan relations. India and Japan have been partners for a long time and Japan has provided assistance to India in multiple fields.


 News:

  1. India and Japan unveiled a vision document for the Asia Africa Growth Corridor, proposed by the Prime Ministers of the two countries last November
  2. Proposal for growth corridor was presented to the Board of Governors of African Development Bank
  3. More details are likely to be firmed up by September in time for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to New Delhi

Different from OBOR:

  1. Unlike China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project, about which India has raised several concerns, the Asia Africa Growth Corridor is conceived as a more open and inclusive programme that will be based on more consultations and keep people as the centre piece rather than just trade and economic ties

Four key elements:

  1. Enhancing capacity and skills
  2. Building quality infrastructure and connecting institutions
  3. Development and cooperation projects in health, farming, manufacturing and disaster management and
  4. People-to-people partnerships

Important partners in mutual growth:

  1. Corridor will facilitate greater trilateral or triangular cooperation among Japan, India and Africa as a win-win-win
  2. As African countries continue to grow against the background of their abundant resources and growing population, they are becoming important partners of Japan and India with deeper relationships, politically and economically
  3. Greater synergy is expected to emerge between Japan’s technology and capital and India’s strong network and experiences in Africa

Greater cooperation sought:

  1. Japan’s Ambassador also called for greater cooperation between Indian and Japanese firms in furthering Africa’s development
  2. He urged Indian investors to participate in the new economic zone coming up around Kenya’s Mombasa port with Japan’s assistance

Back2Basics:

African Development Bank

  1. The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) or Banque Africaine de Developpment (BAD) is a multilateral development finance institution established by Laston M. to contribute to the economic development and social progress of African countries
  2. The AfDB was founded in 1964 and comprises three entities: The African Development Bank, the African Development Fund and the Nigeria Trust Fund
  3. The AfDB’s mission is to fight poverty and improve living conditions on the continent through promoting the investment of public and private capital in projects and programs that are likely to contribute to the economic and social development of the region
  4. African Economic Outlook is its flagship publication, which annually reviews all 54 African countries, and it is a joint effort of the Bank, UNDP and OECD
  5. The 2017 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group will be held on May 22-26, 2017 in Ahmedabad, India

[op-ed snap] The mob’s bias: attack on Nigerian in Noida reflects our racial prejudices

Context:

  1. Attack on a small group of Africans in Greater Noida, a suburb of the national capital located in Uttar Pradesh
  2. It has once again thrown a spotlight on a disturbing trend in the country: mob violence, and specifically the targeting of persons of African origin in many of these instances
  3. What is particularly disturbing and shameful is that the attack took place in a busy shopping mall without a single bystander, shopkeeper or security guard intervening
  4. This has touched an anxious chord about their personal safety among the thousands of African nationals who live, work and study in and around Delhi

Action taken:

  1. The police have made some initial arrests and opened cases against several hundred unnamed persons on charges of rioting in the wake of video footage of the attack going viral
  2. However, such incidents of racial violence need a stronger response from the administration and civil society

Why the attack?

  1. The attack was ostensibly triggered by accusations that some African students were linked to drug-dealing
  2. And they were somehow responsible for the death of a local student
  3. But this is no justification for taking the law into one’s hands
  4. That the law enforcement machinery and the courts are the only places for seeking redress for any breaches of law cannot be overemphasized
  5. That a mere rumour can trigger such violence is truly alarming

The gravity of the issue:

  1. It is difficult to see this incident in isolation from other instances of discrimination against African nationals who have taken up residence in cities around the country
  2. Last year, the murder of a Congolese student in Delhi compelled African Heads of Mission to threaten a boycott of Africa Day

Impact of such happenings:

  1. Even as India makes abundant effort to deepen ties with the 54 countries of the African Union, this cannot be achieved without understanding and acting upon the aspirations of nationals of these countries
  2. In modern diplomacy, the quality of people-to-people contact is a factor in determining the overall strength of a bilateral relationship
  3. But even as Indian diplomats move to assure African students in Greater Noida about their safety, this issue is not about foreign affairs
  4. It is a reminder of the latent racism in India, of the terrible prejudices too many of us harbour, and of the need for a political and social effort to overcome it

Note4Students:

The op-ed throws light on the question- are we racially biased? Important for writing Mains answer and Essay.

[op-ed snap] Looking towards Africa

Context: The recent African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Potential:

  1. Far too often, the world views Africa through the prism of problems. But it is a continent of hope, promise and vast potential
  2. And building on those strengths and establishing a higher platform of cooperation between the United Nations and the leaders and people of Africa is essential to advancing inclusive and sustainable development and deepening cooperation for peace and security
  3. Also, the world has much to gain from African wisdom, ideas and solutions

Keeping the peace:

  1. Africa provides the majority of UN peacekeepers around the world
  2. African nations are among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees
  3. Africa includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies
  4. The recent resolution of the political crisis in the Gambia once again demonstrated the power of African leadership and unity to overcome governance challenges and uphold democracy, human rights and the rule of law

Looking ahead:

  1. The international community has entered the second year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an all-out effort to tackle global poverty, inequality, instability and injustice
  2. Africa has adopted its own complementary and ambitious plan: Agenda 2063
  3. For the people of Africa to fully benefit from these important efforts, these two agendas need to be strategically aligned
  4. It starts with prevention: Our world needs to move from managing crises to preventing them in the first place. We need to break the cycle of responding too late and too little
  5. Most of today’s conflicts are internal, triggered by competition for power and resources, inequality, marginalisation and sectarian divides. Often, they are inflamed by violent extremism or provide the fuel for it
  6. But prevention goes far beyond focussing solely on conflict: The best means of prevention and the surest path to durable peace is inclusive and sustainable development

The young African:

  1. We can speed progress by doing more to provide opportunities and hope to young people
  2. More than three out of five Africans are under 35 years of age
  3. Making the most of this tremendous asset means more investment in education, training, decent work, and engaging young people in shaping their future
  4. We must also do our utmost to empower women so that they can play a full role in sustainable development and sustainable peace
  5. The African Union has consistently placed a special focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment

Conclusion:

There is no doubt that we can win the battle for sustainable and inclusive development which are also the best weapons in preventing conflict and suffering, allowing Africa to shine even more vibrantly and inspire the world.

Note4students:

This op-ed is authored by António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It shows potential and required measures in Africa very lucidly with support of necessary facts. This is an ideal example of how our mains answer or an essay should be. Note down the points for mains.

India sanctions $100 million for Kenya

  1. LoC: India announced $ 100 million Line of Credit for Kenya’s agricultural mechanisation
  2. The announcement followed talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during which they agreed to deepen economic cooperation and expand trade
  3. The Line of Credit would open a new dimension of engagement
  4. Agri: Long-term arrangement with Kenya for production and import of pulses is being explored and discussed
  5. Modi emphasised that broad-based and wide-ranging cooperation in agriculture and food security is a shared priority
  6. The two sides were collaborating to raise agricultural productivity in Kenya

Note4students: We have certain ties with certain countries based on the level of expertise. Know this one too.

[op-ed snap] Reaching out to Africa

Context:

  1. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is one of India’s most important African partners
  2. He has participated in the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit as a special guest

Kenya hungry for more:

  1. The two leaders may give momentum to deepening bilateral ties, with the focus most likely to be on strengthening economic cooperation
  2. Bilateral trade has the potential for rapid growth if Indian companies are willing to be active in a competitive market
  3. Diverse sectors in Kenya, such as energy, pharmaceuticals, textiles, agriculture and financial services, will welcome greater involvement of India Inc.
  4. Some major Indian corporates, including the Tatas, Reliance, Essar, Kirloskars and Dr. Reddy’s, are flourishing in Kenya
  5. The government must approve additional Lines of Credit in strategic areas to secure mutual interests
  6. Education and health are other promising fields

Kenya is Looking East:

  1. Kenyatta, following his ‘Look East’ policy, has developed close relations with China but he needs other partners too
  2. He scored a major victory when he persuaded Japan to hold the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development Summit in August 2016 in Nairobi
  3. This was the first TICAD summit held in Africa
  4. Japan and India are committed, especially after Mr. Modi’s visit to Tokyo, to enhance long-term collaboration in Africa
  5. By participating jointly in key infrastructure development projects in Kenya and the surrounding region, Indian and Japanese companies can offer an innovative model

Future of East African Community:

  1. The East African Community (EAC), comprising Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan, has emerged as one of the most successful of Africa’s Regional Economic Communities
  2. Having established a customs union, it is building a single market and wants to set up a monetary union

Note4Students:

Strategic and economic interests coalesce as India tries to leverage the intense competition among Asian nations for Kenya’s affections. The Indian government and India Inc. need to devise a trade and industrial cooperation strategy to upgrade existing links with the EAC. But India has to tread with caution as the traditional rivalry between Kenya, the regional economic powerhouse, and Tanzania, the largest member-state, has been renewed. This is a new angle in India-Africa engagement.

Hungary, Algeria back fight against terror: Ansari

  1. Source: Vice-President Hamid Ansari
  2. Event: End of five-day-long visit to Hungary and Algeria
  3. Hungary and Algeria have both unequivocally added their voices to the international outcry against terrorism in the current Indian context
  4. Positive outcome: An improved equation with the African continent’s largest nation, i.e. Algeria
  5. Algeria, has an overwhelmingly Muslim population, and the visit could be a positive development diplomatically and otherwise for India

Ansari-led team has a busy agenda in Algeria

  1. Event: Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s visit to Algeria
  2. Both countries agreed on the need to give a renewed impetus to the bilateral engagement and the dialogue process
  3. Given Algeria’s substantial oil and gas and also phosphate deposits, India expects to work with the country to add significant fertilizer capacity
  4. Algeria is the largest country in Africa in terms of area
  5. More than four-fifths of the land area of Algeria is covered by the Sahara Desert
  6. Oil and gas were discovered in 1950

Operation Sankat Mochan

  1. News: In order to evacuate Indians stranded in Juba (South Sudan), the Indian government sent two aircraft under Operation Sankat Mochan
  2. However, nearly half of the Indian nationals in Juba declined the offer to be evacuated citing the ceasefire which has brought a welcome break after a week of intense fighting
  3. Context: One of Africa’s oldest civil wars was reignited in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, between the heavily armed rival factions divided on ethnic lines
  4. Operation Sankat Mochan was the first big evacuation effort in a year after Operation Raahat evacuated hundreds of citizens of India and other countries from Yemen in 2015

India, Kenya to deepen security ties

  1. News: India and Kenya decided to deepen and expand cooperation in a wide range of areas as they signed 7 pacts, including defence and security and avoidance of double taxation
  2. LoC: India also announced extension of a concessional Line of Credit of US$ 45 million to Kenya to help it in development of small and medium enterprises and textiles
  3. Health: India will also build a cancer hospital in Kenya to provide quality and affordable healthcare
  4. Defence: MoU on Defence Cooperation signed will entail staff exchanges, expertise sharing, training, cooperation in hydrography and equipment supply
  5. India is Kenya’s largest trading partner, and the second largest investor in Kenya

South Sudan civil war- a background


  1. Though there is no dominant culture in South Sudan, the Dinka and the Nuer are the largest of more than 60 ethnic groups, each with its own language and traditional beliefs
  2. There are groups of soldiers loyal to the President of Sudan, Salva Kiir, is a member of the Dinka tribe
  3. There are also soldiers and former rebels supporting rebel leader turned Vice-President Riek Machar, a member of a Nuer tribe
  4. The crisis broke out in December 2013 when soldiers loyal to Kiir and Machar fought in Juba, the capital of South Sudan
  5. The latest crisis is due to the gunfire between the opposing factions of Kiir and Machar

South Sudan civil war- 300 Indians stranded in Juba

  1. At least 300 Indians have been left stranded as one of Africa’s oldest civil wars reignited in Juba, the capital of South Sudan
  2. The civil war is between the heavily armed rival factions divided on ethnic lines
  3. Law and order has broken down
  4. Even the UN peacekeeping contingent was busy defending its bases
  5. Though there are 2,500 Indian soldiers in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) they are unable to help

India-Tanzania: Solar Mamas

  1. News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with ‘Solar Mamas’ while on his visit to Tanzania
  2. Solar Mamas: A group of nearly 30 rural women solar engineers from 6 African countries
  3. Training: Trained to fabricate, install, use, repair and maintain solar lanterns and household solar lighting systems in their villages
  4. They have been trained under India’s developmental support for harnessing solar energy
  5. Trained at either Barefoot college in Rajasthan or at the vocational training college in Tanzania

India inks 5 agreements with Tanzania

  1. News: India extended its full support to the resource-rich Tanzania to meet its development needs and signed 5 agreements
  2. Key agreement: India would provide a Line of Credit of US$ 92 million for rehabilitation and improvement of Zanzibar’s water supply system
  3. The 2 countries agreed to deepen overall defence and security partnership, especially in the maritime domain
  4. Combating the twin threats of terrorism and climate change was also on the agenda

India-South Africa deepening co-operation

  1. News: India and South Africa agreed to deepen engagement in key areas of defence production, manufacturing, mining and minerals
  2. Also vowed to cooperate actively in combating terrorism
  3. Discussions on multilateral fronts such as UN Security Council reform, BRICS summit, IBSA, IORA conferences were held
  4. India was projected as an attractive destination for manufacturing of defence equipment and platforms to South Africa, a major global player in defence production
  5. South Africa’s support to India’s membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group was also thanked

India-Mozambique II

  1. Security: India will also help build capacities of Mozambique’s security forces
  2. Defence: Pact signed to boost security and defence ties between the 2 nations connected by the Indian Ocean, recognising terrorism is the “gravest threat” to the world
  3. Both nations to step up security and defence cooperation to counter emerging security challenges, including in the maritime areas
  4. Economy: Mozambique is the “gateway” to Africa and one-fourth of India’s investment in Africa is in Mozambique
  5. Guide presented on the Indian business persons who intend to invest in Mozambique

India-Mozambique I

  1. News: A range of pacts were signed between India and Mozambique during Modi’s visit
  2. Agriculture, healthcare, energy security, security, defence and skill development were some of the areas identified with potential for cooperation
  3. Pulses: A significant “long-term” agreement signed to import pulses from Mozambique to plug India’s shortfall and contain prices domestically
  4. Health: Essential medicines, including those for AIDS, would be donated to Mozambique to strengthen its public health system

Modi to go on a 4-nation Africa tour

  1. In a bid to strengthen India-Africa ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit 4 African nations between July 7 and 11
  2. This would be his first visit to the African mainland
  3. Previous visits to Africa has been to Seychelles and Mauritius
  4. Countries planned on this visit are Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya

India-Africa trade stats

  1. Source: International Trade Centre data
  2. EXIMs: India-Africa goods trade in 2014 was around $75 billion with Africa exporting $40 billion to India and India exporting around $35 billion to Africa
  3. Fall: This had fallen to about $60 billion in 2015 with Africa exporting $34 billion and India exporting $26 billion

Exim bank has a greater say now

  1. The change in approach of Exim bank follows the government giving a greater say to Exim Bank in identifying India’s best interests while it promotes economic diplomacy
  2. As part of the new strategy, it is also important to encourage more Indians to move to Africa on short-term projects in services sectors
  3. Exim Bank has been extending credit to Africa through concessional Lines of Credit, Buyer’s Credit (meant to finance imports of overseas buyers, in this case African buyers, from India) etc.

Exim Bank’s African credit to boost services exports

  1. Context: Exim Bank of India is looking to disburse $10 billion to Africa in the next three years
  2. It wants the credit which has a mix of concessional and commercial rates to be used for boosting India’s services exports to Africa
  3. Shift: (in Exim Bank’s credit disbursal strategy to Africa) From mainly to help build infrastructure and industrial projects to help boost services exports
  4. Why? Infrastructure building is something that China has been doing in Africa & with its huge financial resources, China probably has greater capacity to do it than India
  5. India’s strength is in services, especially in sectors such as healthcare, information technology, education and even agriculture-related services & it needs to be actualised

What is Pelindaba Treaty?

  1. The Treaty controls supply of uranium from key mineral hubs of Africa to the rest of the world
  2. It was signed in 1996 & is also known as the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty
  3. Aim: Preventing nuclear proliferation and preventing strategic minerals of Africa from being exported freely

India eyes uranium from Africa

  1. India might ask African countries to relax commitment to the Pelindaba Treaty
  2. India would try to convince Namibia to implement a bilateral treaty with India and supply uranium to Indian nuclear energy projects
  3. Namibia: India and Namibia signed two MoUs on Cooperation in the field of geology and mineral resources and Cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy in 2009
  4. However, Namibia’s membership of the Pelindaba Treaty has prevented it from ratifying the agreements
  5. Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium

Tourism in Seychelles relations

  1. Economy of Seychelles is heavily dependent on tourism & India is an important source of tourism for it
  2. Last year, about 8,000 Indians travelled to Seychelles to spend holidays
  3. Indians can travel visa-free to Seychelles & the connectivity is also good
  4. The direct share of tourism in the economy 27 per cent, which goes up to 62 per cent if the indirect contribution is factored in

We’re working with India to ensure security in Indian Ocean: Seychelles

  1. Seychelles: India and Seychelles have very close relations and both counties are working together to ensure safety and security in the Indian Ocean
  2. Naval base: Work will start this year in the Assumption Island to jointly develop a naval base by India and Seychelles
  3. Seychelles has allocated a plot on the Assumption Island for the base, which will help enhance maritime security along India’s west and south coast
  4. This initiative has come following China’s announcement that it would build its first African naval base in Djibouti

Students’ well-being behind African outreach

  1. Another reason for exploring the States of India is due to the fact that almost 30,000 African students study in educational hotspots of Maharashtra, Punjab, and smaller towns of Karnataka
  2. And it is by maintaining working relations with the States so that the African students can be well looked after

African countries and their engagements in Indian states

  1. Mali is one of the top cotton producers of the world and so is India
  2. Focus: Tamil Nadu- which is one of the most important centres of textile industry in India & Mali will send a delegation to India in July to firm up ties in the textile sector
  3. Mali would also focus on Goa’s tourism sector and use its best practices to contribute to Mali’s famed tourist hotspot of Timbuktu
  4. The State-focus was visible also during the latest visit of Vice-President Hamid Ansari to Tunisia and Morocco which have emerged as crucial sources for phosphate for India
  5. Phosphate is the main item that Tunisia is selling to India and its trade has drawn Tunisia towards Gujarat due to the State’s history of being business-friendly and the Gujarat State Fertilizer and Chemicals Ltd which is a major partner of Tunisia

Africa reaches out to Indian States

  1. Context: Govt is trying to step up its Africa outreach by involving the States in a major boost to its ties with Africa
  2. Countries like Mali and Tunisia have added to Africa’s ties with India’s States by coming up with plans for engaging the States
  3. Earlier: The promotion of States in foreign affairs had begun with the opening of the Centre-States division in the Ministry of External Affairs two years ago
  4. South Africa was the first from Africa to begin State-centric approach by forging ties with Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra
  5. However, time has come for other African states also to look beyond the big cities of India
  6. Areas: Education, IT, tourism, manufacturing businesses, cotton textiles etc.

India’s ties with African countries ‘good’: Hamid Ansari

  1. Context: Vice President Hamid Ansari’s visit to Morocco & Tunisia
  2. He described India’s ties with African countries as ‘good’
  3. Areas of engagement: IT, tele-medicine, agriculture
  4. Morocco: Substantive relationship due to one product- phosphate
    India has also invested in Morocco in this sector

India eyes more crude oil imports from African nations

India will host 22 African countries at the 4th India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference.

  1. India’s domestic crude production plateaued at 37mt and is likely to remain at this level with little likelihood of future discoveries and technological breakthroughs.
  2. Meanwhile, the number of African nations that have struck oil or gas has increased from 7 in 1990 to 25 now.
  3. Africa is likely to be a significant source of meeting India’s hydrocarbon needs and this will help diversify source of crude from volatile West Asia.
  4. India is also a major exporter of refined petroleum products and Africa is the second largest destination for these products.
  5. India hopes to nurture the growth of African hydrocarbon sector by providing its expertise in oil exploration, refining, consultancy, training and infrastructure development.

PM offers $10 billion credit for infrastructure projects

  1. Mr. Modi announced credit at concessional rates of $10 billion over 5 years
  2. This is in addition to about $7.4 billion that India had already pledged since 2008.
  3. India will also offer a grant assistance of $600 million.
  4. India would give 50,000 scholarships to African students, as they will be new links between India and the African continent.

Expanding An Old Friendship

Indian interests in Africa will benefit from timely implementation of projects.

IndiaAfrica


  1. The third India-Africa Summit will be held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi on October 29.
  2. India’s total commitment to African infrastructure has been $7.5 billion and this covers, inter alia, 137 projects in 41 countries.
  3. Particular attention has to be given to expanding the distance education and telemedicine programmes to convert them to a virtual university.
  4. The Indian private sector will have to show integrity and sensitivity to African concerns.
  5. The collapse of Libya in 2010 and the general unrest in north Africa has caused instability and arms, illicit drugs and terrorist groups emerged. Thus, terrorism is a major challenge for both.
  6. The security of the Indian Ocean is vital for African countries on the continent’s eastern shore as well as for island countries that are members of the African Union (AU).
  7. The time has come to develop defence ties through training programmes with the objective of enhancing naval capacities.
  8. The two pressing global issues are climate change and UN reform.

Doubtless, the summit will be a successful and grand diplomatic event. However, the pursuit of Indian interests in the continent will demand the timely implementation of its decisions.

 

Reversing the continental drift

The India-Africa Forum Summit process, that began in 2008, is a much needed intergovernmental attempt to give direction and thrust to bilateral synergies.

IAFS


  • In the economic domain, two sides only partially able to leverage their socio-economic similarities and complementarities (such as India’s growing need for Africa’s commodities and the suitability of Indian technology) .
  • At IAFS-1, India had offered duty-free market access to Africa’s least developed countries.
  • In IAFS-2, India promised $5 billion dollars in soft loans, half a billion dollars in grants, institution building and training fellowships to Africa.
  • The IAFS process has given a fillip to cultural and informational contacts and mutual awareness.
  • A welcome surge in people-to-people contacts as large numbers of African entrepreneurs, medical tourists, trainees and students have started coming to India.

Some contextual and challenging factors

  • First, India is not alone in region, our competitors on the continent, such the European Union, China, Japan and the U.S. also have IAFS-type processes and often commit even more resources than we do.
  • Second, in recent years, new drivers of the putative African century have emerged.
  • These include lower commodity prices, greater democracy, rise in militancy, population growth, preponderance of youth and urbanisation.

How can the momentum achieved so far by the IAFS process be sustained or even accelerated?

  • First, we need to inject greater bilateralism and balance into the process. Joint endeavour is more productive for both sides.
  • Second, the IAFS process needs to better leverage two strong assets, Vibrant Indian private sector and Indian diaspora in Africa.
  • Third, Need to improve the last mile of the delivery chain to ensure efficacy. e.g. Pan Africa e-Network project
  • Fourth, India needs to make more vigorous efforts to inform its African friends about its contributions.
  • As, Indian help in Ebola epidemic ravaged countries, received scant attention and publicity, partly because India delivered it multilaterally or in a piecemeal manner.
  • By having a dedicated, commercially-driven Indian television channel for African countries may be a good beginning.

The IAFS process has shown the promise of Indo-African partnership. Indeed, the current global economic stagnation only enhances the relevance of a mutual interface between the world’s fastest growing continent and the world’s fastest growing major economy.



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