A new chapter in India-Africa ties

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    A new chapter in India-Africa ties 

    Syllabus: GS2/Agreements Involving India &/or Affecting India’s Interests

    In Context

    • The 20-member Africa Expert Group (AEG), established by the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), recently presented the Report entitled ‘India-Africa Partnership: Achievements, Challenges and Roadmap 2023’.

    The report highlights on Africa

    • The report examines the transitions unfolding in Africa: demographic, economic, political and social.
      • From this blend of changes, stamped by the adverse impact of the pandemic and complicated geopolitics, emerges a continent that is set to transform itself. 
    • As stated by the report, Africa is slowly heading toward regional integration and is devoted to democracy, peace and progress.

    India Africa Relations

    • Long history of partnership: 
      • India has a long history of partnership with Africa, with solidarity and political affinity going back to the early 1920s when both regions were fighting against colonial rule and oppression. 
      • After India gained independence, it became a leading voice in support of African decolonization at the United Nations. 
    • Promoted South-South Cooperation since independence:
      • Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme: 
        • In 1964, India launched the ITEC Programme to provide technical assistance through human resource development to other developing countries, with African countries the greatest beneficiaries of it and the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Programme (SCAAP).
      • Building African capacity:
        • In 1949, India announced 70 scholarships for students from other developing countries to pursue studies in the country. 
    • Areas of Cooperation:
      • IndiaAfrica cooperation has also focused on techno-economic capacity building, skill development and capacity building featured prominently in all the India-Africa Forum Summits

    Emerging Challenges

    • Superimposed on this landscape is the 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.
    • The competition is mainly for strengthening their relations with parts of Africa to ensure market access, gain energy and mineral security, and increase political and economic influence. 
    • China’s role:
      • China stands apart, armed with a consistent and robust policy since 2000 to become virtually Africa’s biggest economic partner.
      • An essay in the report aptly portrays China’s role as ‘the infrastructure developer’, ‘the resource provider’, and ‘the financier.’ 
      • It has invested enormously in Africa in terms of money, materials and diplomatic push.
      • Since 2007, Chinese leaders have visited the continent 123 times, while 251 African leaders have visited China.
    • Limitations to India’s approach
      • India’s model of development cooperation in Africa lacks a clear strategy.
      • Comparison with the Chinese Model:  In the absence of a clear and well-articulated vision for Africa, India’s development cooperation is often compared to the Chinese model of development cooperation in the region — despite significant differences — which is based on state-led infrastructure for resource deals, rising debt threats, lack of domestic capacity building and job creation. 
      • ‘Ten Guiding Principles for India-Africa Engagement’:
    • In 2018, India’s PM outlined the ‘Ten Guiding Principles for India-Africa Engagement’, often regarded as India’s vision statement for Africa. 
    • But these tenets cannot be seen as the mission for the next decade because many aspects are not new and instead represent continuity in principles that have traditionally defined India-Africa engagement.

    Report recommendations – ‘Roadmap 2030’

    • The central part of the VIF report is ‘Roadmap 2030’, a set of policy recommendations that are designed to deepen and diversify the India-Africa partnership. 
    • Political and diplomatic cooperation:
      • India-Africa Forum Summit:
        • 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. 
      • Dialogue with African Union (AU):
        • 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. 
      • AU’s entry into the G-20:
        • Another recommendation relates to forging consensus among G-20 members on the AU’s entry into the G-20 as a full member
      •  Defence and security cooperation:the government needs to 
        • Increase the number of defence attachés deployed in Africa
        • Expand dialogue on defence issues, 
        • Expand lines of credit to facilitate defence exports. 
    • 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. 
    • Socio-cultural cooperation:
      • Socio-cultural cooperation should be increased through 
        • Greater interaction between universities, think tanks, civil society and media organisations in India and select African countries. 
      • 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.

    Future outlook 

    • India has a substantive partnership with Africa and a rich fund of goodwill, but 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”.
    • India needs to be dynamic in its engagements in Africa and address the changing needs of the Continent while emphasising the huge opportunity the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement presents for India.

    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] What are the ways for deepening and diversifying the India-Africa partnership?and Discuss the limitations of India’s approach  .