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Special Address - Shri M. Ganapathi, Secretary(West), Ministry of External Affairs at the India-Africa Strategic Dialogue

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  • November 24, 2011
    Speeches and Lectures
    Remarks by Shri M. Ganapathi, Secretary(West), Ministry of External Affairs
    at the India-Africa Strategic Dialogue
    organised by Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA)
    on November 24-25, 2011

    Acting Director General, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses and my Distinguished colleague and friend Dr. Arvind Gupta, Lal Bahadur Shastri Chair, IDSA
    Ms. Ruchita Beri, Senior Research Associate, IDSA,
    My senior colleagues former Ambassadors
    General Satish Nambiar
    Ambassadors and Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps,
    Distinguished visitors from Africa
    Distinguished invitees,
    Friends, ladies and gentlemen,

    I consider it great honour to be given the opportunity to participate in the inaugural session of this India-Africa Strategic Dialogue organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). IDSA has made a significant contribution in its role as India’s premier think tank on global strategic and security issues. The Institute, since its inception in 1965, has enriched the process of policy formulation in India as well as several Asian countries through its diverse array of activities and programme. I am particularly pleased to see that Institute has also focussed its attention towards the continent of Africa.

    2. Today’s Dialogue is particularly important. If the period till the 80's of the last century was ruled by the Atlantic Ocean, with the focus shifting towards the Asia Pacific Region from the mid-70's, then one could confidently foresay that the coming decades of the 21st century will belong to the Indian Ocean Region and Africa. This is an area of great strategic significance drawing the attention of every significant global player.

    3. In this context, the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation assumes a particular importance. India has assumed the Chairmanship of this Association 10 days ago. This Organisation had been dormant thus far. It is our aim and intention to reinvigorate this Organisation to the larger good of the countries of the region and particularly Africa as a significant membership of this Association is drawn from the African continent.

    4. India’s partnership with the countries of Africa rests on a firm historical foundation of shared colonial past and similarity of post-Independence development experience. The Indian Independence struggle found a greater resonance after Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi went to South Africa and from there returned to India as Mahatma Gandhi.

    5. The presence of the Indian Diaspora in Africa could be seen to have commenced from Southern and Eastern Africa over 250 years ago with a larger number of its people moving towards that continent around 200 years ago. Last year, we celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the presence of the Indian Diaspora in South Africa. Our identification with issues affecting Africa was evident when India even before it became independent imposed sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. The AFRICA Fund further closely identified India with Africa’s struggle against colonialism and apartheid as the acronym AFRICA stood for Action For Resisting Imperialism, Colonialism and Apartheid. This Fund, in fact, was crystallised in New Delhi in 1986.

    Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    6. Ours association with Africa is marked by consultation, responsiveness and mutual appreciation of each other’s capabilities and constraints. Today, both India and her African partners realise that they are witnessing an extremely robust phase of their association. Africa is on the move as brought out in the McKenzie Report last year and as we see in the many data of the Mo Ibrahim Index. The new chapter that has been opened in the relationship between a resurgent Africa and a rapidly growing India is anchored in the fundamental principles of equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. While India and Africa have come a long way, we both face daunting challenges of poverty, hunger and disease. We have no doubt, however, that by working together, India and Africa can set an example of fruitful cooperation in the developing world and naturally where there are challenges, there are opportunities.

    7. India and the African countries, through a deliberative mechanism spanning across several platforms, have arrived at a model of cooperation where the selection of priority areas are being made in full consultation with the intended beneficiaries. Our vision of a partnership with Africa for the 21st Century goes beyond the already strong bilateral relationships and envisages closer cooperation with the African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as well as the African Union. This new paradigm of cooperation is premised on Africa’s own aspirations for Pan-African institute and development programmes. The wide ranging cooperation and development partnerships between India and Africa encompasses, amongst others, the fields of human resources and institutional capacity building, science & technology; agricultural productivity and food security; industrial growth; development in the health sector; infrastructure development; and Information and Communication Technology.

    8. This development of a three-tiered cooperation structure between India and Africa, which began with the First India Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in April 2008 was further reaffirmed at the Second Africa India Forum Summit in Addis Ababa in May 2011. This new framework takes into account Africa’s own aspirations for pan-African institutions and development programmes. The Delhi Declaration of 2008; the Addis Ababa Declaration of 2011; the Africa India Framework of Cooperation of 2008; and the Africa India Framework of Enhanced Cooperation of 2011 bear testimony to this fact.

    9. India’s partnership with Africa has been consultative, responsive and focused on capacity building and human resource development. Under the rubric IAFS-I and II, India would be establishing more than 100 capacity building institutions in Africa encompassing wide variety of fields. There is also a provision for 22,000 scholarships for African students in various academic courses and training programmes including special scholarships focusing on agriculture sciences and fellowships for science and technology. We are confident that this paradigm of cooperation will continue so that we can contribute to the development of Africa’s own capacities for its progress.

    10. India-Africa partnership is also geared towards socio-economic transformation. India’s commercial engagement with Africa is primarily driven by the private sector and the recent years have witnessed a surge in Indian investment in Africa along with an impressive growth in our two-way trade. It is also encouraging to witness an increase in African exports to India, and in this regard, the Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme announced by India for the Least Developed Countries has begun to bear fruit.

    11. The development of infrastructure is a priority for Africa. We are happy to be contributing to this end through the concessional lines of credit extended by us. Africa places a strong emphasis on augmentation of regional connectivity. In this context, India is contributing towards establishing a new Ethio-Djibouti rail network through a line of credit worth US$ 300 million. The role of the private sector in the operationalisation of some of the letters of credit needs no emphasis. This has acquired prominence through the announcement of Lines of Credit to Africa at the two Forum Summits. Our Prime Minister had announced US$ 5.4 billion as Line of Credit in the First India Africa Forum Summit and an addition US$ 5 billion in this regard during the Second Africa India Forum Summit in Addis Ababa in 2011.

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    12. While there have been political engagement with Africa over the years, emphasis, however, had moved towards economic interaction. There is a felt need for greater engagement between India and Africa on issues of a geo-strategic nature.

    13. India has always been keen to cooperate with Africa on issues of global security. An important example in this regard relates to India being at the forefront of the global efforts against piracy off the coast of Somalia. During the second Africa India Forum Summit in Addis Ababa in May this year, our Prime Minister announced a contribution of US$ 2 million towards the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The Indian Navy has been extensively sailing the waters of the Indian Ocean providing for EEZ Surveillance and anti-piracy patrolling to some of the countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.

    14. In the area of Defence Cooperation, the Indian Navy is extensively involved in the Indian Ocean region. The IBSAMAR was an important maritime activity involving the three IBSA countries of India, Brazil and South Africa. India has carried out extensive hydrographic surveys for countries in the region. These have been beneficial for these countries helping them in their EEZ claims.

    15. Besides piracy, another common threat facing India and Africa has been that of terrorism. The countries in Africa and India are naturally concerned over this menace.

    16. One important organisation which has played an important role between India and Africa has been the IBSA. This association bringing together India, Brazil and South Africa has a crucial role not only globally but also in Africa where the IBSA Trust Fund has been used towards providing in the developmental activities of developing countries in the region.

    17. India fully acknowledges the support received from our African partners in getting us elected as the non-Permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period 2011-12. India has never shied away from assuming roles of responsibility when it comes to issues related to Africa in the global fora.

    18. Owing to their rising global politico-economic profile, both India and Africa are justifiably expected to highlight the concerns of the developing world at various international fora. This shared responsibility calls for a greater understanding of each other and synchronization of our views and response to a variety of global issues that may have a direct bearing on the development prospects of our peoples.

    19. With these words, I thank you for giving me the honour and privilege of participating in the inaugural event of your Dialogue. We in the Ministry of External Affairs would be happy to receive the suggestions emanating from the Conference towards factoring these in the Africa dimension of India’s foreign policy. I wish the Dialogue all success towards meaningful and productive deliberations over the next two days.

    Thank you.