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Remarks by Shri T.S. Tirumurti, Secretary (ER) at Africa Day round-table discussion in IDSA on : “India-Africa Partnership in a changing world”

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  • T.S. Tirumurti
    May 29, 2019

    Director General of IDSA Shri Sujan Chinoy
    H.E. Dean of the Africa Group
    Esteemed Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen

    I am privileged to be a part of the Africa Day round-table discussions on ‘India-Africa Partnership in a changing world’. It is an honor to be able to address such a distinguished gathering. I thank the Director General and IDSA for taking this initiative. I also welcome all Heads of Mission and representatives from African countries.

    2. The bonds between India and the African Continent have been forged over several centuries. It is on the strong foundation of these age-old spiritual, cultural and civilizational ties that we are striving to build a contemporary relationship, one that is based on our shared commitment to the ideals of peace, security and freedom.

    3. I think there can be no doubt about the potential of Africa.

    4. I am happy to say that the day when we will see Africa fully come into its own is not very far. That’s because Africa has already taken charge of its own destiny. Vision 2063 is an important guiding light to the path Africa has already started to tread.

    5. I will particularly highlight three important areas where change is already coming in.

    6. First, Africa is taking firm steps to fight terrorism and ensure that terrorism does not disrupt their social fabric and their development.

    7. Second, the Continental Free Trade Agreement will be a game-changer for intra-Africa trade and removal of barriers to trade, investment and growth.

    8. Third, political transitions are becoming more responsive to people’s aspirations and, consequently, smooth and peaceful. Respect for democracy has increased.

    9. There are certainly many other changes too happening in Africa and Africa is well poised to address the challenges of the changing world.

    10. Africa is a continent of growth and opportunities. With the young and fastest growing youth population in the world and considerable natural resources and human capital at its disposal, Africa is poised to be a significant growth factor in the global economy.

    11. India’s partnership with Africa is based on a model of cooperation which is responsive to the needs of African countries. It is demand-driven and free of conditionalities. It is based on our history of friendship, historical ties, and a sense of deep solidarity. As Prime Minister has underlined, African priorities are our priorities.

    12. Over the years, our relations have acquired greater depth and breadth across a range of areas.

    13. There has been unprecedented intensification of our political engagement with Africa with 29 visits to African countries at the level of President, Vice President and Prime Minister apart from several Ministerial visits. The visits have been in both directions. Subsequent to the visit of 41 Heads of State/Heads of Government who attended IAFS-III, we have hosted over 35 leaders from Africa for various events in the last nearly five years. India has already opened 6 of the 18 additional Missions in Africa.

    14. Our engagement is not limited only to the bilateral political level. Today, India and Africa have comprehensive diplomatic mechanisms at all three levels - continental, regional and bilateral and through multilateral fora. In addition to Summits (IAFS I, II, III), we have had three meetings with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of Africa. We are looking at ways to enhance cooperation in IORA, Indo-Pacific and other groupings.

    15. India was one of the first few countries, after the Hong Kong World Trade Organization Ministerial in 2005 that announced duty free, quota free access to low income countries in 2008. Even during recession from 2009- 2012, trade between India and Africa grew by nearly 32% annually. In addition, India has also signed bilateral trade agreements with more than 20 African countries.

    16. India-Africa trade has multiplied and diversified in the last 15 years. Our bilateral trade stood at US $ 62.16 billion for 2017-18 which reflects an increase of 21.56 % over the previous year.

    17. India is ranked as the third largest export destination in Africa. India sources nearly 18% of its crude oil and also its LNG requirement, mostly from the West African region.

    18. With the African continent, our investments are steadily growing in a range of sectors and India has become the fifth largest investor in Africa with cumulative investments at over USD 54 billion. Sizeable investments have been made in Oil and Gas, mining, banking, pharma, textiles and other sectors in African countries. Several Indian companies have entered into Joint ventures in Africa. They have the experience, technology and capital to unlock these African resources and create value for host governments. Many important firms from Africa also have established their presence in India.

    19. The Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme announced by India for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) benefitted African nations and has contributed towards steady increase in our trade figures by extending duty-free access to 98.2 % of India’s total tariff lines. 38 African countries enjoy the benefits of our DFTP Scheme.

    20. As I mentioned earlier, the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which is expected to boost intra-African trade by elimination of import duties and non-tariff barriers providing opportunities for expansion of trade ties, will make Africa the largest free trade area in the world. India views this development as yet another opportunity to boost trade and economic ties with Africa.

    21. Africa is a continent which receives nearly 20% of our pharmaceuticals. We hosted the first India-Africa Health Sciences Meet in 2015. Many of our Pharma companies have established units in various parts of Africa, including Ethiopia, Uganda, DRC, Zambia and Ghana. Our medicines and medical equipment such as Bhabhatrons and phototherapy machines are saving lives in Africa. Many of our hospitals have entered into joint ventures for establishing health care facilities.

    22. Interestingly, in pursuance of trilateral cooperation with Africa, India is collaborating with Japan and Kenya to build a cancer hospital, and is collaborating with UAE and is in discussion with Ethiopia to set up a Centre for IT Excellence. Trilateral partnership has considerable potential. This is also in line with the nascent Asia-Africa Growth Corridor and we hope to further this area of cooperation.

    23. Capacity building and human resource development are at the core of India's engagement. India is proud of its educational and technical ties with Africa. We want to build genuine partnerships that create jobs and opportunities. It is with this in mind that we decided to offer 50,000 scholarships to Africans under ITEC scholarships, ICCR scholarships and other training programmes under IAFS-III. African countries have been the largest recipients under the ITEC Programme. More than 2300 ITEC slots has allotted to the African Countries for the year 2018-19.

    24. We initiated new Public-Private-Partnership training programs for medical professionals of Africa with some of the prestigious hospitals in India.

    25. India is also helping the African countries to bridge the digital divide. We have launched 2nd phase of the Pan Africa e-Network project – e-VidhyaBharati and e-ArogyaBharati Network Project (E-VBAB), which aims to provide 5 years free tele-education to 4000 students, free medical education to 1000 doctors/nurses/paramedics and free medical consultancy.

    26. Every year, thousands of bright minds from African Continent come on self-financing basis to our Universities and colleges. These young people show the world that Africa has the drive to forge a new future.

    27. 13 current or former Presidents, Prime Ministers and Vice Presidents in Africa have attended educational or training institutions in India. The list includes current President of Nigeria, President of Mozambique and Vice President of Tanzania. Six current or former chiefs of armed forces in Africa trained in India’s military institutions.

    28. Our development cooperation is a key feature of our engagement with the continent. After South Asia, the African continent is the largest recipient of Indian overseas assistance. 181 Lines of Credit have been extended to 41 countries for a total amount of USD 11 billion, which is 42% of the total amount under LoCs. We are working together with EXIM Bank to streamline our development assistance delivery to our African partners, especially after the adoption of 2015 IDEAS guidelines.

    29. Our projects have made a great difference to the quality of life in these countries, ranging from drinking water schemes to irrigation, solar electrification, power plants, transmission lines, cement plants, technology parks, railway infrastructure and many others. Our development cooperation ranges from power projects and dams in Sudan and Rwanda to water treatment in Tanzania, sugar factories in Ethiopia and IT Parks in Mozambique and Swaziland. We have also built Presidential Palace in Ghana and National Assembly building in the Gambia.

    30. Our training centres are spread out across the continent. During the last 4 years, 6 IT Centres were established in South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Lesotho, Ghana, Namibia and Tanzania; a CGARD Technology Centre in Madagascar; 7 Vocational Training Centres in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Zimbabwe, and Egypt. A Technology Centre was also established in Zimbabwe. Entrepreneurship Centres are being set up in some countries. Several similar projects are at various stages of execution.

    31. During the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, India offered USD 10 billion for development projects over the next five years. We also offered grant assistance of USD 600 million. You will be happy to know that we are well on course to achieve those targets. I hope to have a mid-term review with my African Union counterparts next month.

    32. Under our grant in aid programs, we provided food grains, vehicles, IT equipments, books and miscellaneous items to several countries in Africa.

    33. Perhaps the most prominent sustainable development partnership between the two regions is reflected through the International Solar Alliance (ISA). Africa has taken a leadership role in solar expansion with half of ISA member states coming from the continent. India has pledged more than USD 1 billion Lines of Credit for solar projects in Africa.

    34. India and Africa share the same development challenges and are both driven by similar imperatives. This allows for knowledge, capital and skills to flow from both regions, and provides the impetus for meaningful research collaborations.

    35. To facilitate easier movement of people, e-visa facility has been expanded from the Indian side to cover 33 countries from Africa. From the African countries, many countries have announced simplification of visa rules for Indians. Ethiopia, Ghana and Zimbabwe provide visa on arrival to Indians.

    36. Air connectivity has improved with commencement of direct flights from Rwanda Air from April 2017, increase in frequency of Ethiopian Airlines, and Kenya Airways flight to Mumbai. Air Tanzania has announced direct flights from Dar-e-Salaam to Mumbai in December 2018.

    37. Under our expanded cultural outreach programme, 15 Festivals of India were held in Africa in the last 4 years, in 12 for the first time such as Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Senegal. The number of African countries participating in International Surajkund Crafts Mela has been increasing.

    38. Our cooperation in the areas of defence and security has only strengthened over the years to reflect new threats and transnational crimes. Maritime security links have been strengthened. We have just recently given two Naval vessels to Mozambique. Terrorism now comes in various shapes and we are determined to fight it together. We are one of the largest contributors to UN Peace Keeping Missions in Africa which have played an important role in bringing peace and stability to the African continent.

    39. Our engagement with African countries is not only at a bilateral level but also at multilateral forums. We support each other at the various elections at international level and we are grateful to Africa for their continued support to India’s candidature.

    40. Apart from scope for enhancing cooperation in the area of mutual interests like tourism, medicines, governance, science and technology, space, IT, education, health, mining etc, India and Africa have common interests on many international issues like UN reforms, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping, cyber security, energy security etc.

    41. Africa and India have come a long way, and have a long path into the future in which we are emerging and rising players. Our efforts are to stress on continuing to move the partnership beyond government-to-government contacts to a larger interaction between businesses, media and civil society.

    42. Increasingly, there is an alignment of India’s growth agenda and Africa’s Vision 2063, which is set to unleash new possibilities of partnering in key areas which are central to unfolding African resurgence.

    43. While relationship with Africa is on an upswing, the challenge is to maintain the momentum, ensure follow up on our successes as well as find new areas of cooperation.

    44. I am confident that the 10 guiding principles enunciated by Prime Minister Modi for enhancing cooperation with Africa will take our relations to greater heights and unlock the immense potential that our partnership still holds.

    45. India-Africa partnership is going to be an important and, in some ways, a defining partnership to address the challenges of the changing world.

    46. I thank IDSA once again for giving me an opportunity to share my thoughts on this important topic.

    I wish this event all success.

    Thank you