Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Jul, 09, 2019

[op-ed of the day] A shot at economic logic

Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.


The 12th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) which concluded on July 8 at Niamey, the capital of the Niger Republic, saw 54 of 55 of its member states signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) for goods and services. If taken to its logical conclusion, this audacious project would eventually create an African Common Market of 1.2 billion people and a GDP of over $3.4 billion — the metrics are comparable to India’s. The AfCFTA would be world’s largest FTA, and in a world dependent on African markets and commodities, it would have global impact.


However, there are three main reasons to be sceptical about the viability of the AfCFTA.

  1. Largely ineffective
  • First, the African Union (founded as the Organisation of African Unity in 1963) has been largely ineffective in dealing with the continent’s myriad problems such as decolonisation, underdevelopment, Islamic terrorism and the Arab Spring.
  • The AU’s grand plans, including the Muammar Qadhafi-funded Africa Unity project, have been spectacular flops.
  • It is, therefore, natural to take the AfCFTA, the AU’s most ambitious project so far, with a ladleful of salt.

2. Weak Economies

  • Second, serious political, organisational and logistical challenges to the AfCFTA notwithstanding, the national economies in Africa are generally weak with a low manufacturing base.
  • They also lack competitiveness and mutual complementarity.
  • Only a sixth of Africa’s current total trade is within the continent.

3. Countercyclical to the global trends

  • Third, the AfCFTA seems to be countercyclical to the ongoing global protectionist trends as seen in the U.S.-China trade conflict, Brexit and the stalemates at the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
  • World trade is likely to grow only by 2.6% in 2019, a quarter of last year’s figure.
  • Commodity prices are stagnant and globalisation is often being reversed.

Reasons for optimism

  • Collective self-reliance –  Given the strong global headwinds including a cooling Chinese ardour for Africa, greater collective self-reliance through African economic integration makes eminent sense.
  • Regional economic blocks – Further, the AfCFTA can build upon the experience of the continent’s five regional economic blocks.
  •  Extensive road map – While the AU Commission is not famous for efficient planning, it has prepared an extensive road map towards the AfCFTA with preliminary work on steps such as incremental tariff reduction, elimination of non-tariff barriers, supply chains and dispute settlement.
  • Moreover, vigorous “informal” trade across porous national borders is already a fact of African life.
  • A surge in consumer base – Looking into the future, a recent UN projection showed that nearly half the world’s population growth between now and 2050 would come from sub-Saharan Africa, the population of which would double to nearly two billion. This surge in consumer base would make the proposed AfCFTA even more important.

From the Indian angle

  • Africa is already an important economic partner for India with total annual merchandise trade estimated at $70 billion or nearly a tenth of our global trade.
  • India is Africa’s third largest trading partner.
  • While India’s global exports have been largely stagnant, those to Africa have surged. For instance, exports to Nigeria in 2018-19 grew by over 33% over the previous year.
  • Africa still has unfulfilled demand for Indian commodities, especially foodstuff, finished products (automobiles, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods) and services such as IT/IT-Enabled Service, health care and education, skilling, expertise in management and banking, financial services and insurance.

Ways to engage more with Africa

  • Co-production – While local manufactured items and services may ultimately compete with Indian exports, Indian firms can co-produce them in Africa.
  • New Avenues – If handled in a proactive manner, the AfCFTA is likely to open new opportunities for Indian stakeholders in fast-moving consumer goods manufacturing, connectivity projects and the creation of a financial backbone. India donated $15 million to Niger to fund the Niamey AU Summit.
  • Help the AU Commission – As the next step, New Delhi can help the AU Commission prepare the requisite architecture, such as common external tariffs, competition policy, intellectual property rights, and natural persons’ movement.
  • African transnational corporations  – It can also identify various African transnational corporations which are destined to play a greater role in a future continental common market and engage with them strategically.
  • Indian Diaspora – The cross-linkages of a three million strong Indian diaspora spread across Africa can also be very valuable.
  • Finally, once the AfCFTA is accepted as beneficial game changer, the African elite could perhaps contemplate crossing another Rubicon: an India-African FTA.


Before Africa was “discovered” by the West, it had a thriving overland trade. Large camel caravans ferried commodities such as ivory, gold, mineral salt, precious stones and slaves across prosperous trading centres such as Timbuktu, Ghana, Kano, Burnu, Agadez, Edo, Zinder, Ghat, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam and Cairo. Subsequent colonialism and mercantilism destroyed internal trade routes, replacing them with an ecosystem in which Africans had better links with their foreign “mentors” than among themselves. By the AfCFTA, the Africans are only trying to correct this historic distortion.

Jan, 28, 2019

Explained: Why India-South Africa relations are unique


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Red Fort Declaration

Mains level: India’s recent Africa focus and its strategic as well as economic importance



  1. President Cyril Ramaphosa of the South Africa was the Chief Guest at the 70th Republic Day
  2. This is the second time a South African Head of State is Chief Guest for Republic Day — the first occasion was in 1995 with late Nelson Mandela.

India and South Africa

  1. India’s relations with South Africa go back centuries and have a powerful emotional component.
  2. It is here that Mahatma Gandhi began his political career, and over the decades of the 20th century, India stood solidly behind their struggle against apartheid.

Historical Significance

  1. India was the first country to sever trade relations with the apartheid government, and subsequently imposed a complete — diplomatic, commercial, cultural and sports — official ban on South Africa.
  2. India worked consistently to put the issue of apartheid on the agenda of the UN, NAM and other multilateral organizations and for the imposition of comprehensive international sanctions against South Africa.
  3. The African National Congress (ANC) maintained a representative office in New Delhi from the 1960s onwards.
  4. India actively worked for the AFRICA Fund to help sustain the struggle through support to the frontline states.
  5. In March 1997, during the visit of President Mandela to India, the two countries signed the historic Red Fort Declaration for Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa.

Red Fort Declaration

  1. South Africa achieved democracy in 1994, it was the Red Fort Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa, signed in March 1997 by which set the parameters for a rekindled relationship.
  2. The 20th anniversary of signing of the declaration was commemorated by an India-South African cultural extravaganza at High Commission of India, Pretoria on April 9, 2017.
  3. This Strategic Partnership between the two countries was again re-affirmed in the Tshwane Declaration (October 2006).
  4. Both these declarations have been instrumental mechanisms that has contributed in the past to both South Africa and India for achieving their respective national objectives.

Growth in Bilateral Trade

  1. India’s has had fairly flourishing commercial relations with South Africa since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1993.
  2. However, despite bilateral trade having been “on the upswing”, having “crossed the $10-billion benchmark in 2017-18.

Way Forward

  1. The uniquely intertwined histories of India and South Africa have ensured that the bonds much deeper than we generally realize.
  2. The partnership is about a shared and prosperous future, which realizes the dreams of Madiba and Mahatma for our people.

For more comprehensive reading on India-South Africa Relations, must navigate to:

Observer Research Foundation

Jan, 24, 2019

[pib] IAFTX- 2019


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IAFTX

Mains level:  India’s role in UN Peacekeeping Missions


IAFTX 2019

  1. The joint exercise named ‘India-Africa Field Training’ is being conducted with an aim to synergise United Nations peacekeeping operations.
  2. Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique and Uganda will be participating in the joint military exercise.
  3. It scheduled to be conducted at Aundh Military Station and College of Military Engineering, Pune from 18 March to 27 March 2019.
  4. The joint training exercise is being conducted with more than a dozen African countries & India.


  1. The IAFTX-2019 is a positive step towards growing political and military ties with the member nations of African continent.
  2. It aims at synergizing humanitarian mine action and joint peace operations.
  3. It will boost the already strong strategic cooperation between the countries.
Sep, 13, 2018

[pib] TCIL, MEA sign MOU for pan Africa e-network project


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: E-VBAB, Pan-African e-Network Project

Mains level: India’s recent Africa focus and its strategic as well as economic importance



  1. Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd. (TCIL) signed an agreement with Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for the implementation of e-VBAB Network Project.
  2. The two separate platforms,  will link various educational institutions and hospitals in India and the participating African countries.

E-VBAB Network Project

  1. E-VBAB Network Project is primarily a technological upgrade and extension of the Pan-African e-Network Project (Phase 1) which was implemented in 48 partner countries across Africa from 2009 till 2017.
  2. The Phase 1 of the Project successfully imparted tele-education and tele-medicine by linking educational institutions and hospitals in India with those from the participating African countries.
  3. The flagship e-VBAB project is a step towards capacity building in the field of education and medical science for all the 54 African Nations.
  4. It is fully funded by MEA, GoI and is envisaged to be implemented in 9 months followed by 5 years of operations and maintenance.
  5. The project aims to provide an opportunity for local employment and opens the door for access to education and medical expertise from India to African students, doctors, nurses and paramedical staff.
  6. It will also give an opportunity for Global acceptance of Indian University Education system and Indian medical Health services.

About Pan-African e-Network project

  1. Pan African e-Network project is an ICT project between India and the African Union that seeks to connect the 55 member states of the Union through a satellite and fibre-optic network to India and
  2. It is aimed to enable access and sharing of expertise between India and African states in the areas of tele-education, telemedicine, Voice over IP, infotainment, resource mapping, meteorological services, e-governance and e-commerce services.
  3. The e-network is made up of a large undersea cable network and satellite connectivity provided through C-Band transponders of the INTELSAT-904 or RASCOM satellites.
  4. The project is often described as Africa’s biggest ever in the ICT sector and is expected to extend ICT infrastructure to rural and previously underserved areas.
  5. The idea for the project came from the then President A P J Abdul Kalam who proposed such a network during his address to the Pan-African Parliament in Johannesburg in 2004.
  6. The project is seen as an example of India furthering its economic and strategic interests in Africa through the use of soft diplomacy and has been acclaimed as an instance of South-South cooperation, helping to overcome the digital divide in Africa.
Aug, 13, 2018

[op-ed snap] Refocusing on Africa


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Asia Africa Growth Corridor, African Union, East African Community

Mains level: India’s recent Africa focus and its strategic as well as economic importance


PM’s recent Africa tour

  1. PM Modi recently returned from a tour of Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa
  2. It included a flurry of agreements and a speech at the BRICS Summit in South Africa outlining 10 guiding principles for India’s engagement in Africa
  3. A refocused Africa strategy is emerging which builds on India’s soft power in historical, trade, and cultural links, particularly with eastern Africa — or in the new jargon, the western edge of the Indo-Pacific

Aims of the new strategy

  1. It aims to secure India’s foothold on the continent
  2. Provide secure access to resources
  3. Build markets for Indian goods and services
  4. And support India’s global ambitions
  5. The strategy is also focused on building alliances and differentiating India from China as a development partner

Indian strategy: Development partnership

  1. India’s main tool for implementing this new strategy is an increase in development partnerships
  2. Since it cannot match China’s deep-pocketed infrastructure-focused engagement in Africa, India has tried to differentiate itself by engaging with its diaspora and private sector links to build development partnerships
  3. India has a comparative advantage in English-language training and research
  4. India has also initiated a series of India-Africa forums and is working with Japan on an Asia Africa Growth Corridor

Key players in the new setup

  • The strategy was on display during Modi’s first stop in Rwanda, a country that is considered an increasingly important gateway to Africa and one with which India now has a strategic partnership
  1. Wanting to solidify this strategic relationship, Modi announced India would open a high commission in Rwanda, signed seven MoUs, including in defence, and provided two credit lines of $100 million each for irrigation works and industrial parks
  2. Rwanda is the present chair of the influential African Union, where common positions are adopted by the continent
  3. It is the third-fastest growing economy in Africa
  • Modi’s next stop was in Uganda, which currently chairs the East African Community, a grouping of six countries with a common market and free trade arrangements with other countries
  1. PM Modi, with a large business delegation in tow, addressed a business event, as well as the Indian diaspora, whose number of 50,000 belie their role in nearly two-thirds of the country’s GDP
  2. He addressed the Ugandan parliament, a first by an Indian prime minister
  3. He also extended cooperation on training between Uganda’s military and the Indian Army
  4. A commitment for two credit lines for over $200 million and several capacity-building and training programmes was also made
  • Modi’s final stop in South Africa to attend the 10th BRICS summit drove home India’s strategic engagement
  1. He said India is putting Africa at the top of its priorities and is keen to build partnerships that will liberate its potential rather than constrain its future

Implementation tools under question

  1. While India’s Africa strategy is becoming clearer, questions about the efficacy of tools for implementing it remain
  2. Only four per cent of Indian grants in 2017-18 were committed to Africa
  3. Credit lines to Africa have a 40 per cent disbursement rate
  4. India’s new concessional financing scheme, which subsidises private Indian companies bidding on African infrastructure projects, shows no signs of functioning a year after its announcement

Way Forward

  1. India seeks to implement its new strategic partnership with Africa and convince countries that it can not only commit but also deliver
  2. Focus on efficacy and timely action in terms of delivering promises will help India achieve this goal
Jul, 24, 2018

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: Trailing China


Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of African continent in India’s diplomacy & trade and China’s increasing role in Africa


PM Modi’s Africa visit

  1. By the time PM Modi lands in Kigali, Rwanda on the first hop of his tour, China’s president Xi Jinping would have completed his trip to the central African nation
  2. Defence diplomacy is certainly a part of Modi’s agenda
  3. In Kigali, Modi is expected to preside over the signing of a broad agreement for bilateral defence cooperation
  4. While Delhi struggles to meet the growing demand in Africa for security cooperation, Beijing, a latecomer in this business, is racing ahead

Beijing’s stride in defence agreements in Africa

  1. China’s military diplomacy culminated recently in a fortnight-long China-Africa Defence and Security Forum in Beijing that saw senior military leaders from 50 nations across the continent in attendance
  2. At the forum, China promised “comprehensive support” for the modernisation of the armed forces of African nations
  3. This support includes the supply of new technologies as well as lending personnel and strategic advice
  4. According to the Stockholm Institute of Peace Research, China’s arms exports to Africa have increased 55 per cent during the period 2013-17 in comparison to the preceding five years

China’s strategy: Being Cost effective & Cooperative

    1. China does not boast of high-quality conventional weapons, its military gear is seen as quite cost-effective in Africa
    2. China has, over the last decade, ramped up its role in the peacekeeping missions in the African continent
    3. China has offered $100 million in grant aid to establish an African Rapid Response Force to cope with regional crises
    4. Besides the traditional areas of military security, Beijing has taken big steps towards cooperation with the African governments on internal security, including in the areas of countering terrorism and money laundering
    5. Strengthening domestic police forces has become an important element of China’s security strategy in Africa
    6. Beijing has also begun to invest considerable energy into what is being called “law-enforcement diplomacy”

Sharing new technologies

  1. China is also exporting artificial intelligence software that is boosting the surveillance capabilities of the African states through the use of such new technologies as facial recognition
  2. Beijing is now eager to export this technology to Africa’s security establishments
  3. Beijing collaboration with Africa on AI is mutually beneficial: It will promote social and political stability in Africa while improving the performance of China’s algorithms

What can India do?

  1. Almost all of the African leaders who came to the Third India-Africa Summit in October 2015 sought greater defence engagement with India
  2. But the gap between Delhi’s promise and performance on defence diplomacy continues to grow
  3. India does not have much of a defence industrial base to enter the African arms bazaar
  4. But India’s military training facilities have always been attractive to other developing countries, including those in Africa
  5.  India has seen African peacekeeping in narrow diplomatic terms, for example in reinforcing its claims for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council
  6. India can’t match the massive resources that China deploys in the continent. But it does not mean Delhi can continue to ignore its responsibility to put India’s defence diplomacy in Africa and beyond
May, 09, 2018

3rd edition of UNPCAP underway in Delhi


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the UNPCAP

Mains level: Aim of the UNPCAP. (The Chinese influence in the African continent is a cause of concern for not only India but also for the US. These efforts will help us in countering the Chinese influence)


The third edition of the United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP)

  1. It was recently inaugurated in New Delhi
  2. The UNPCAP sessions will be held from May 7-25

Aim of the UNPCAP

  1. The course is aimed to build and enhance the capacity of the African Troop Contributing Countries to the UN and to further train the trainers from these countries
  2. The training incorporates topics on operational and logistical matters, humanitarian issues, thematic topics and table top exercises, and mission briefs

India’s contribution

  1. The course revolves around the concept of training the trainers(as stated by the UN) is one of the many steps that India has initiated towards active contribution to peace support activities


  1. The course is conducted by the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping in India (CUNPK) in partnership with the US, the Indian Army
  2. The first and second editions of the course were held in New Delhi in 2016 and 2017, respectively
May, 07, 2018

[op-ed snap] Continental ambition: The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA)


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ACFTA

Mains level: Importance of the ACFTA for the African Continent.
(Also, China’s presence as a major investor in Africa’s giant energy and transport projects cannot be ignored. It is important for India to closely watch politics of the African Continent.)


Importance of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA)

  1. The ACFTA is a potential game changer for the world’s poorest region
  2. The pact seeks to create a single market in goods and services, free movement of persons and investment, and eventually a customs union with a common external tariff
  3. It was recently signed by 44 of the 55-member African Union (AU) in March

The ACFTA is crucial for Inter-African trade: Opportunities for the African Continent

  1. The exports within Africa accounted for a mere 18% of the continent’s total exports in 2016, compared to 59% and 69% of intra-regional exports in Asia and Europe, respectively
  2. With a number of African countries ranking among the world’s fastest-growing economies over the last two decades, the ACFTA could tap into the immense potential for closer trade integration
  3. Moody’s also points out that exports in manufactured goods within the continent are more than double the exports to countries outside it
  4. These findings increase expectations that a continent-wide single market would enable Africa’s transformation from an exporter of commodities and raw materials to a supplier of finished manufactured goods

One of the main aims of the ACFTA

  1. The ACFTA aims to abolish import duties on 90% of goods(currently averaging at 6%) which is projected to raise internal trade by over 50%
  2. That would double if non-tariff barriers are scrapped, says the UN Economic Commission for Africa
  3. The UN Conference on Trade and Development is cautious about the effects from initial loss of tariff revenues and uneven costs and benefits during the transition

Another important requirement

  1. Deeper regional integration requires not only the dismantling of border tariffs, but also the elimination of non-tariff barriers such as poor infrastructure

Lack of the US engagement

  1. There has been a corresponding lack of U.S. engagement in the continent whose threat to reduce global aid could hit the region the most

The way forward

  1. African leaders have been highly successful in leveraging their influence in the global strategic and economic arenas
  2. But they could strive harder to uphold democratic rights and constitutional principles at home. That is critical to promote sustainable development


African Continental Free Trade Area

  1. The African Continental Free Trade Area is the result of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among all 55 members of the African Union
  2. If ratified, the agreement would result in the largest free-trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization
  3. African heads of state gathered in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018 to sign the proposed agreement
  4. Forty-four of the 55 members of the African Union signed it on 21 March 2018
  5. The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is a continent-wide free-trade agreement brokered by the African Union (AU) and initially signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018
  6. The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent
  7. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022
  8. The proposal will come into force after ratification by 22 of the signatory states
Mar, 05, 2018

Planned Indian military base stirs Seychelles controversy

Image source


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Assumption Island, Mozambique Channel

Mains level: India’s counter arrangements to China’s string of pearls


India’s plan to build a military base in Seychelles

  1. The military base is likely to come up on Assumption Island is to be funded by India and shared by the two countries’ militaries
  2. The deal to build a military base was struck in principle in 2015 during PM Modi’s visit to Seychelles

Importance of establishing a military base

  1. The location lends India a strategic importance for monitoring shipping in the Mozambique Channel
  2. Base will also help India ensure the safety of its vessels in the southern Indian Ocean
  3. The military base will help coastguards to patrol its 1.3 million square kilometers exclusive economic zone for illegal fishing, drug trafficking, and piracy

India-Seychelles military cooperation

  1. India has had a military cooperation agreement with Seychelles since 2003
  2. The present agreement would give India rights of use of the Assumption base for up to 30 years
  3. Indian soldiers would be deployed on the island and help train Seychelles’ troops
Feb, 28, 2018

[pib] Revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kenya notified


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement

Mains level: India’s relationship with African countries


  • The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kenya was signed and notified in 1985
  • Subsequently, the DTAA was renegotiated and a revised DTAA was signed between both countries on 11th July 2016
  • The revised DTAA has been notified in the Official Gazette on 19th February 2018

Key features of the revised DTAA

  • In order to promote cross-border flow of investments and technology, the revised DTAA provides for reduction in withholding tax rates from 15% to 10% on dividends, from 15% to 10% on interest, from 20% to 10% on royalties and from 17.5% to 10% on fees for management, professional and technical services.
  • The revised DTAA provides for a new Article on Limitation of Benefits to allow treaty benefits to bonafide residents of both countries, to combat treaty abuse by third country residents and to allow application of domestic law to prevent tax avoidance or evasion.
  • The Article on Exchange of Information has been updated to the latest international standard to provide for the exchange of information, including banking information for tax purposes, to the widest possible extent.
  • A new Article on Assistance in Collection of Taxes has also been provided in the revised treaty which will enable assistance in collection of tax revenue claims between both countries.

Benefits from DTAA

  •  Improve transparency in tax matters, help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance, remove double taxation and will stimulate the flow of investment, technology, and services between India and Kenya
Oct, 03, 2017

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: India and Djibouti’s geopolitical scrum

Image Source


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Geographical location of the ‘Horn of Africa’ region

Mains level: Indo-African relations has very important for Indian economic activities in the region. Also, the Chinese influence in the region is also one of the main factor.



  1. The article talks about the recent visit of President to the ‘Horn of Africa’ region and diplomatic issues related to it.

Horn of Africa

  1. The four different states constituting the Horn Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti along with Yemen across the Red Sea have long been described as one of the world’s pivotal regions

Why is this region in news?

  1. Due to President Ram Nath Kovind’s recent visit to Djibouti and Ethiopia
  2. It is President’s first visit abroad
  3. The visit suggests India is finally giving importance to the extraordinary geopolitical significance of the region
  4. Kovind is India’s first president or prime minister to visit Djibouti

Particulars of the Djibouti

  1. Its population is less than a million and its land is largely barren
  2. Djibouti’s location at the confluence of the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean and the crossroads connecting Africa, the Middle East and Asia
  3. The geographical position made it a very attractive piece of geopolitical real estate

India’s Diplomatic relations with Djibouti

  1. India does not have an embassy in Djibouti
  2. The president’s visit suggests Delhi is now ready to end its prolonged neglect of Djibouti and re-engage the region strategically
  3. Like in so many areas, China’s strategic advances in the Horn have helped put Djibouti back on India’s political radar

How was India’s relations with the African countries started improving?

  1. Things began to change in the 1990s as Delhi turned to economic globalisation
  2. Growing commerce resulted in intensifying India’s focus on Africa as a major economic partner
  3. India had declared that its national interests were no longer limited to the Subcontinent but stretched from the “Aden to Malacca”
  4. Also, at the Africa summit in India during 2015, most participating leaders wanted an expansion of security and defence cooperation with India

China’s influence in the region

  1. China’s infrastructure development in the Horn preceded the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative
  2. One of the biggest infrastructure projects in the region has been the 750 km-long rail link between landlocked Ethiopia and Djibouti
  3. Military influence: China has secured the rights to a base in Djibouti that can host up to 10,000 soldiers until 2026
  4. This is the first ever foreign military base for China

The way forward

  1. Many regional powers are now trying to shape the strategic landscape of the Horn through military bases and armed interventions
  2. India is somewhat late in joining the scramble for political influence in this critical corner of the Indian Ocean
  3. The President’s visit will hopefully lay the foundations for a comprehensive engagement with Djibouti and the Horn of Africa
Aug, 28, 2017

Ocean forecasting system unveiled

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The article shows the good foreign policy initiatives by India.


Inauguration of the Ocean Forecasting System

  1. The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) of the Ministry of Earth Sciences has inaugurated the Ocean Forecasting System for Comoros, Madagascar, and Mozambique 
  2. It was done at the third Ministerial Meeting of Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Asia and Africa (RIMES)
  3. The meeting was held at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  4. The Ministerial council and the WMO lauded and placed on record the initiatives of INCOIS/India in providing the ocean forecast and early warning services to the Indian Ocean countries

Who will get benefited from it?

  1. The ocean forecast and early warming information on high wave, currents, winds, tides, sub-surface ocean conditions cater to users like
    (1) fishermen,
    (2) coastal population,
    (3) tourism sector,
    (4) coastal defence officials,
    (5) marine police,
    (7) port authorities,
    (8) research institutions and offshore industries of these countries
  2. The system would offer oil spill advisory services, high wave alerts, port warnings, forecast along the ship routes in addition to tsunami and storm surge warnings and help in search and rescue operations
Oct, 21, 2016

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
Oct, 19, 2016

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
Jul, 15, 2016

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
Jul, 12, 2016

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
Jul, 12, 2016

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
Jul, 11, 2016

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
Jul, 11, 2016

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
Jul, 09, 2016

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
Jul, 08, 2016

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
Jul, 08, 2016

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
Jul, 02, 2016

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
Jun, 13, 2016

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.
Jun, 13, 2016

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
Jun, 09, 2016

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
Jun, 09, 2016

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
Jun, 09, 2016

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
Jun, 08, 2016

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
Jun, 08, 2016

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.
May, 31, 2016

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
Jan, 20, 2016

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.
Oct, 30, 2015

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.
Oct, 21, 2015

Expanding An Old Friendship

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


  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.


Oct, 14, 2015

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.


  • 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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