India’s Security Engagement with Africa a Vital Part of Foreign Policy: TS Tirumurti

March 27, 2018

New Delhi: Describing India’s security engagement with Africa as ‘a vital part of our foreign policy’, Shri TS Tirumurti, Secretary (ER) today said that India and the African continent’s engagement in tackling a complex set of security challenges has deepened in the recent past, largely due to an unprecedented impetus to political engagements between the two regions.

Shri Tirumurti was delivering a keynote address at the 4th India-Africa Strategic Dialogue on ‘India and Africa: Deepening the Security Engagement’, organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, on March 27, 2018.

Elaborating further, the Secretary observed that India’s contribution towards providing security cooperation in Africa is well known, and is particularly manifested in India’s extensive participation in the UN peace keeping efforts in Africa over the last six decades. More than 6000 Indian peacekeepers are today deployed in five peacekeeping operations in Africa, including in South Sudan and Democratic People’s Republic of Congo, he pointed out.

India has defence and security cooperation with all littoral states in the Indian Ocean region, including South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar, as well as with countries like Nigeria, Tanzania, Egypt and others, observed Shri Tirumurti. The range of bilateral security issues include training, infrastructural development assistance, peace keeping, defence agreements, joint naval exercises, defence equipment transfers and hydrography etc, he added.

Commenting on India’s traditional ‘non-prescriptive approach’ towards security matters, the Secretary said that India supports the African Union’s peace and security initiatives within the African peace and security architecture. India’s recent decision to open new Missions in 18 African countries reflects the importance India gives to Africa, he pointed out.

Speaking of multi-dimensional threats to security and development in the region, he said that terrorism and other conflicts in Africa have time and again disrupted the wheels of progress. Piracy, cross-border threats, and transnational crimes, including narcotics, trafficking and cybercrimes etc add new dimension to the problem, fuelling instability in the region. Such scenario calls not only for deepening, but also broadening and widening security engagements between the two regions by initiating dialogue on multiple fronts, he added.

Describing Africa as a major developing partner of India, the Secretary pointed out that more than 40 per cent of our lines of credit has been given to Africa. Indian companies have substantially increased their presence in Africa, he concluded.

Also speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Alem Tsehaye Woldemariam, Dean of African Diplomatic Corps in India, Eritrea, while observing that the existing security structure cannot necessary address the emerging security challenges in the region, insisted upon the need for India and Africa to design a security architecture that serves both the regions.

Earlier, Deputy Director General, IDSA, Maj Gen Alok Deb (Retd) read out a statement from Director General, Shri Jayant Prasad that described the importance of security cooperation between the two regions as imperative due to the shared interests, challenges and perceptions of mutual benefit.

Besides playing its conventional role in conflict resolution in Africa through the United Nations peacekeeping forces and providing maritime security in the Indian Ocean, India looks to deepening ties with African nations in the areas of cybersecurity, energy, food security, skills and capacity building, the statement read.