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India- Africa Relations UPSC NOTE

 


India- Africa relations

  • In the past 15 years and especially since 2014, India-Africa relations have developed steadily but more progress is achievable.

  • The continent Africa, accounting for nearly 17% of the world’s population today and reaching 25% in 2050.

  •  India’s rise as a global player is inevitably linked to the kind of partnership it enjoys with Africa.

  • Both India and many African countries were founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.



  • This common alignment fostered cooperation and diplomatic engagements between India and Africa.

Economic Cooperation:

  • India has been one of the major investors in Africa, with investments in sectors such as telecommunications, energy, infrastructure, agriculture, and manufacturing. 

  • Bilateral trade 

  • India seeks to secure its energy supplies by partnering with African countries in the oil and gas sector. 

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  • Long-term contracts for oil and gas imports 

  • Collaboration in renewable energy projects

  • India looks to leverage Africa's ample agricultural land to address its own food security concerns.

  • There is potential for cooperation in areas such as agricultural research, technology transfer, and capacity building.

  • African countries, rich in mineral resources. India's industries rely on African resources like iron, copper, aluminium, and zinc.

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Infrastructure and Development:

  • Capacity Building and Human Resource Development: 

  • India offers scholarships, training programs, and technical assistance to African countries to enhance their human resource capabilities in sectors such as healthcare, education, information technology, and agriculture.

  • India supports infrastructure projects in Africa through aid and concessional loans. 

  • Transportation, power generation, telecommunications, and water management.

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  • India provides medical expertise, pharmaceuticals, and affordable healthcare solutions to African countries. 

  • Partnerships in research and development, manufacturing, and supply of essential medicines.

Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges:

  • Traditional medicine, and yoga.

  • Indian Diaspora

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Political:

  • India has been actively involved in UN peacekeeping operations in African countries, contributing troops and sharing its expertise in capacity building, training, and conflict resolution.

  • India and Africa cooperate in addressing climate change, promoting sustainable development.

Regional Groupings and Forums:

  • India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS).

  • BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa)

  • India-Africa Science and Technology Initiative (IASTI).

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  • Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC): It is an economic cooperation agreement between India and Japan aimed at promoting socio-economic development in Asia and Africa. 

    • It focuses on infrastructure development, digital connectivity, and capacity building in African countries.

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Challenges

  • Ethiopia, Sudan, the Central African Republic and other countries continue to battle with the challenges posed by insurgency, ethnic violence and terrorism.

  • Sharpening competition among at least half a dozen external partners such as China, Russia, the United States, the European Union, Japan, Türkiye and the United Arab Emirates.

  • Other countries strengthening their relations with parts of Africa to ensure market access, gain energy and mineral security, and increase political and economic influence.

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  • China stands apart, armed with a consistent and robust policy since 2000 to become virtually Africa’s biggest economic partner. 

  • China’s role as ‘the infrastructure developer’, ‘the resource provider’, and ‘the financier.’ 

  • China has invested enormously in Africa in terms of money, materials and diplomatic push.

  • It is “essential for New Delhi to review its Africa policy periodically, stay resilient by making the required changes, and place a razor-like focus on its implementation”.

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Policy recommendations

Political and diplomatic cooperation:

  • Political and diplomatic cooperation should be strengthened by restoring periodic leaders’ summits through the medium of the India-Africa Forum Summit; 

    • The last summit was in 2015.

  • Besides, a new annual strategic dialogue between the chairperson of the African Union (AU) and India’s External Affairs Minister should be launched in 2023.

  • Forging consensus among G-20 members on the AU’s entry into the G-20 as a full member.

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  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) should have a secretary exclusively in charge of African affairs to further enhance the implementation and impact of the Africa policy.

Defence and security cooperation:

  • The government needs to increase the number of defence attachés deployed in Africa.

  • Expand dialogue on defence issues

  • Widen the footprint of maritime collaboration.

  • Expand lines of credit to facilitate defence exports. 

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  • More can be done to increase the number of defence training slots and enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism, cyber security and emerging technologies.

Economic and development cooperation:

  • India-Africa trade touching $98 billion in FY22–23 is an encouraging development. 

  • This figure can go up if access to finance through the creation of an Africa Growth Fund (AGF) is ensured. 

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  • A special package of measures to improve project exports and build up cooperation in the shipping domain has been suggested. 

  • A special focus on promoting trilateral cooperation.

  • Deepening science and technology cooperation.

Socio-cultural cooperation:

  • It should be increased through greater interaction between universities, think tanks, civil society and media organisations in India and select African countries. 

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  • Setting up a National Centre for African Studies will be the right step. 

  • Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarships awarded to Africans should be named after famous African figures. 

  • Visa measures for African students who come to India for higher education should be liberalised.

  • They should also be given work visas for short periods.

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