India-Africa Current Affairs - 2019

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National Conference on ‘India-Africa Partnership in a Changing Global Order’ held in New Delhi

National Conference on ‘India-Africa Partnership in a Changing Global Order: Priorities, Prospects and Challenges’ held in New Delhi. It was organized by Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).

India-Africa Relation

India and African nations have always been natural partners in civilization, culture, and progress (like both fought colonialism together) which were forged by a strong bond of long traditions of historical goodwill, shared experiences, interests, civilizational contacts,  mutuality of worldviews and  friendship,.

In cold war era, Africa’s support played a decisive role in making Non- Aligned Movement initiated by India, Egypt and Yugoslavia into a powerful voice of developing world. Thereby, the sense of solidarity and unity formed during Cold War days continues to drive India-Africa relations to this date.

Africa’s ‘Agenda 2063’ for its overall development is in line with India’s broad guiding principles of engagement with the continent. Therefore, India’s interactions with Africa in recent years have acquired vibrancy and dynamism.

In recent years, there has been unprecedented intensification of political engagement with 32 high-level visits from India to African countries apart from several ministerial visits which has helped in overall strengthening of relations between India and Africa.

India has hosted more than 36 leaders from Africa since 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit held in 2015 and has opened 6 additional missions in the region to increase its diplomatic outreach in Africa.

Africa has become an important trade and investment partner for India. With bilateral at $62.66 billion in 2017-2018 and cumulative investments in Africa amounting to $54 billion, this has made India the 4th-largest investor in Africa. However, there remains great uncharted potential to be explored.

India’s development initiatives: such as human resource development and capacity building under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme, Grant Assistance and Lines of Credit to Africa has made India a close partner of Africa in its socio-economic transformation.

Challenge for India and Africa: is to work together to bring about reformed multilateralism, whether in United Nation and United Nation Security Council (UNSC) or in other international organisations, to change global order. This is not only in mutual interest of both nations but in interest of all developing countries.

India will also work with Africa to improve agriculture as Africa has 60% of world’s arable land, but produces just 10% of global output.

India, with its vast experience with digital revolution would certainly support Africa’s development; spread digital literacy; extend education and health; improve delivery of public services; mainstream the marginalized and expand financial inclusion.

India on its part has initiated a series of policy interventions such as TEAM 9 initiative, Focus Africa Programme and India Africa Forums Summit process to strengthen and diversify India’s the engagement with African states.

India-assisted IT- Biotechnology Park inaugurated in Cote d’Ivoire

Mahatma Gandhi Information Technology and Biotechnology Park (MGIT-BP) built with India’s assistance was recently inaugurated at Grand-Bassam in Cote d’Ivoire. It was jointly inaugurated by Sailas Thangal, Ambassador of India to Cote d’Ivoire and country’s Vice President Daniel Kablan Duccan.

About MGIT-BP

It is a dedicated Free Trade Zone (FTZ) for IT and Biotechnology.  It is being built with India’s assistance through EXIM Bank Line of Credit (LoC) of $20 million.

MGIT-BP Project consists of two parts

(1) Architectural concept and design for buildings of FTZ and construction of main building to host IT enterprises. 1st part of project was implemented by Shapoorji Pallonji, an Indian Conglomerate company.

(2) Supply and commissioning of equipment which included, computer assembly plant, VSAT (very small aperture terminal) with satellite earth station, human DNA lab, networking lab, data storage area network, an audio-visual lab, and a power generator. 2nd part was implemented by United Telecom Limited (UTL), an Indian company specializing in telecom networks.

Significance of MGIT-BP

It shows growing and shining example of cooperation between India and Cote d’Ivoire, energised by high-level of political commitment from both nations.  It is expected to bring direct benefit to Cote d’Ivoire’s people.

It will further consolidate cooperation and bilateral relations between India and Cote d’Ivoire, especially in context of technology transfer and sharing of development experience to build capacities of partner countries in Africa.

It is important milestone to mark 150th celebration of birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. It also showcases India’s commitment to expediting projects under 100 days plan.

Background

In July 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made Africa a priority for India’s foreign policy while outlining 10 principles of India’s engagement with Africa in Kampala, Uganda.

Over the years, there has been a significant intensification of India’s engagement with Cote d’Ivoire with India extending six Lines of Credits (LoCs) aggregating to $207.70 million aimed at building infrastructure, improving Ivorian skills and create opportunities.