India-Africa Forum Summit: Old Friends – Old Family

It’s likely to be the biggest diplomatic event in independent India’s political history. Never have more than 39 heads of states gathered in the country.

  • The India-Africa forum summit on October 29, four-day summit meeting between India and 54 African nations, aimed at deepening the spirit of partnership, strengthening international solidarity and expanding cooperation.
  • India hopes to create conditions that stimulate trade and investment flows between India and African countries.

What is India-Africa Forum Summit and how did it start?

  • The India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) is a celebration of the close partnership between Africa and India, started in 2008.
  • It was decided to hold the summits every three years, alternately in India and Africa. New Delhi was the venue in 2008 and Addis Ababa in 2011.
  • The third summit, scheduled to be held in 2014, was postponed because of the Ebola outbreak, and will now be held in Delhi from October 26 to 29.

Reasons behind such an initiative?

  • Economically, Africa is very resource-rich, and has moved from being an underdeveloped continent to having several fast-growing economies, and new democracies.
  • Strategically, there are key shared interests in battling global terrorism, and piracy in the Indian Ocean.
  • Politically, India’s ambition to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council makes it imperative that it engages with all 54 countries of the continent.
  • New Delhi would also want a stronger partnership with Africa on climate change ahead of the COP-21 in Paris.

How did it help in the development process of the African continent?

  • In the past three years alone, 25000 Africans have been trained or educated in India.
  • The Pan Africa e-network , which now connects 48 African countries, is becoming the new highway of regional connectivity and human development.
  • Under the India Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme, over 100 officials from sub-Saharan Africa receive training annually in India.
  • The continent’s progress will add great stability and momentum to the global economy and benefit India as well.

Why India and Africa are important for world?

  • India and Africa constitute one-third of the world’s population. A large majority of them are in their youth.
  • Indeed, India and Africa will have a significant part of the global youth population in this century. Their future will shape the course of this world to a great extent.

In what ways can the New Development Bank of BRICS benefit African countries?

  • It has brought together the five BRICS countries (especially South Africa) as equal partners in the establishment of the Bank, which reflects a completely new paradigm of financial structure of such institutions.
  • It would also, hopefully, have an African window or regional presence of the Bank in the future.

Obsession with Chinese investments in Africa, Really?

  • World Bank estimates that private Chinese investment accounted for 55% of all Chinese direct investment in Africa by the end of 2011, with most of the spending in manufacturing and the service sector.
  • India seeks to challenge China’s dominance on a continent that is blessed with vast natural resources and has the world’s fastest-growing population.
  • New Delhi wants to project its soft power and historical ties to Africa, in contrast to China’s focus on resource extraction and capital investment that has sparked a backlash in some countries against Beijing’s mercantilist expansion.

What is on the agenda of this IAFS?

  1. A forceful support for United Nations Security Council reforms.
  2. The endorsement of India’s position at the WTO with regard to agricultural subsidies.
  3. An understanding of the African position on emerging mega free trade agreements like the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership.
  4. Finally a ‘Feel Good Factor’ to deepen diplomatic relations with African governments.

Seven of the world’s fastest growing economies are now in Africa. All of this means that Africa’s engagement with the world is an opportunity for better, more equal relations.

The third Summit, which will see the participation of all African nations for the first time, this is an opportunity to take India’s Africa policy out of China’s shadow and truly bring foreign policy home.


Published with inputs from Arun
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