Once considered as the ‘Dark Continent’, Africa has appeared as a global theatre for completion and power play among all major world powers. With growing economic development and steady integration of African states into the world economy, it is becoming the most sought after destination for investment and trade by major economies. Africa and India share a long history, whether it is related to Nile or Indus valleys. After being neglected for decades by India, Africa presently has become the core of Indian diplomacy. Africa and India, the both, enjoy special relations with their ties connected by shared colonial past. A tie of India with African states has emerged swiftly in the past two decades. At the same time, India is also facing several challenges because of its competition with China, which has now become one of the significant reasons for Indian diplomacy in Africa.
Relations until 1960:
|Nehru talked about Afro Asian solidarity. African countries provided power to Nehru’s NAM. The policy in this phase is stated as “ideational” and “pragmatic”
2nd phase (1970 – the 1990s)
||There was a negligence of Africa because of India’s focus on South Asia and inward looking foreign policy. Though, India in this phase continued to support Africa against Apartheid.
|3rd phase (1990s onwards)
This is the phase of reengagement with Africa. However, the lead was taken by private sector, rather than government. Private sector of India should be given credit to push interest of GoI towards the region of economic and strategic importance.
India-Africa relationship at present
The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), previously known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), is an international organization consisting of 22 coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean.
It is based on the principles of
- Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation, Promotion and Social Development of the region.
- The Coordinating Secretariat of IORA is located at Ebene, Mauritius.
In March 2015, Prime Minister visited Mauritius and Seychelles, signaling India’s aim to improve ties with the African Indian Ocean Rim Countries and advance this relationship further from economic prosperity to security and cover. He said: “We seek a future of Indian Ocean that lives up to the name of SAGAR – Security and Growth for All”. India also signed a pact for infrastructure development for improving sea and air connectivity on Agalega Island in Seychelles.
- The Delhi Declaration is in sync with the ‘Africa’s Vision 2063’ which also focusses on growth, stability, and prosperity - Arc of Prosperity.
- The 3rd India Africa Forum Summit was held in October 2015.
- The India–Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) is the official platform for African-Indian relations. IAFS will be held once every three years.
|1st IAFS summit
||Held from April 4 to April 8, 2008 in New Delhi, India.
|2nd IAFS summit
Africa-India Forum Summit 2011: Addis Ababa Declaration
In a break from tradition and moving away from the Banjul arrangement, Heads of State of all 54 African countries were invited to join in the summit. During the Summit, India reaffirmed that development cooperation was the foundation of the India-Africa partnership and offered an additional USD10 billion concessional credit over the next 5 years. An India-Africa development fund was also created during the 3rd summit in New Delhi. It was declared that India’s cooperation will be in line with the objectives set by the Agenda 2063 initiative of the African countries
African Union and 2063 agenda
Many things can occur over the course of 50 years. The African Union considers that within this duration of time the innovative African spirit can transform the reality of the African continent.
The African Union’s bold development strategy, Agenda 2063:
The Future We Want for Africa, details a new Africa emerging from the continent’s current state and into what the AU describes as an “African Renaissance.” Can it be done; can truly transformative change within the African social structure build a new reinforced and integrated African continent? To be fully honest these are topics that only time can answer, but what can be taken from Agenda 2063 that there is a visualization of a united and prosperous Africa. Agenda 2063 details an Africa that uses the potential of its massive youth population to enhance economic growth and innovative processes.
‘New Hopes, New Horizons’
The Third India-Africa Forum Summit held recently revealed a “dynamic and transformative agenda”. This agenda is of mutual resurgence and empowerment between India and the African nations to make stronger the bond even more in the future. This was the third summit, which was begun in 2008, since when two summits had taken place. Although, this is the first time that 54 heads of the states out of a total of 54 in the African continent came to India together for one reason.
India eyes uranium from Africa
India is planning to ask African countries to relax commitment to the Pelindaba Treaty which controls the supply of uranium from the key mineral centre of Africa to the rest of the world. Namibia is the 4th largest producer of uranium.
About Pelindaba treaty:
The Pelindaba Treaty also known as the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, aims at preventing nuclear proliferation and strategic minerals of Africa from being exported freely. The Agreement was signed in 1996 and came into effect with the 28th ratification on 15 July 2009. The Treaty bans the research, manufacture, development, stockpiling, possession, testing, the stationing of nuclear explosive devices in the territory of parties to the Treaty, and the removal of radioactive wastes in the African zone by Treaty parties.
Energy Agency protects all their peaceful nuclear activities. It covers the entire African continent along with a few islands. At present, the treaty has been ratified by 40 countries.
Further possible opportunities b/w India and Africa
||Indian-African synergies can be used for expanding sectors like telecommunications, tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, and banking.
Being the coasting states in the Indian Ocean, they can work towards establishing mechanisms to deal with threats to regional security including terrorism and piracy. ISIS is a risk to global peace and ISIS striving to establish in African states, at the same time maritime piracy is also challenge where India and Africa can cooperate and fight terrorism
Africa’s expectation from India in the field of public health goes beyond just the supply of affordable medicine to cover assistance in developing the continent’s public health services capacities.
Development of renewable energy and blue economy for the continent’s growth can be realized by Indian experience and the expertise to develop the maritime resources. There is massive potential to exploit fisheries, medicinal plants, minerals specially uranium etc
In terms of hunger and undernutrition India and Africa face same challenges. Importing food grains from African nations will resolve nation’s food security problem. It will also provide opportunities to farmers of Africa to boost productivity, income and generate employment.
Strategies adopted by Indian government:
- Pan African level engagement
- Bilateral engagement with countries
- Involving Indian communities and Indian Diaspora
- Partnership with regional organization
- Development partnership through IBSA and BRICS