New Delhi: India and Africa must respond to the “volatile and uncertain” world and important lessons can be learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and knock-on effects of the Ukraine conflict, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday.
In an address at a book release event, Jaishankar said development partnership and capacity building is at the core of India’s relationship with the African continent and it speaks for New Delhi’s shared desire of developing together as “equals”.
He said India was “very conscious” of the expanding threats of radicalism, fundamentalism and terrorism to African societies and both sides have been cooperating in dealing with the challenges.
“Today, our ties too must respond to the volatile and uncertain world that we confront,” he said.
“There are important lessons to be learnt from the pandemic disruption. The stresses from the knock-on effects of the Ukraine conflict are also relevant,” Jaishankar said.
Highlighting India’s development partnership with the African continent, he said the “difference that we have made to the hard and soft infrastructure is something of which we can be justifiably proud.”
“To date, India has completed 189 projects in Africa, with 76 at the execution stage and 68 today at the pre-execution stage. Financed by lines of credit with an outlay of over USD 12 billion, they extend to over 41 countries,” he said.
The external affairs minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not only brought new thinking and energy into the ties but also devoted a much higher degree of attention, resources and capabilities to this account.
Referring to India-Africa trade cooperation, Jaishankar said the story on this front is also an encouraging one.
“India is today the fourth largest partner for Africa registering trade of USD 69.7 billion during 2018-19. This has obviously been impacted during the Covid years but we are expecting a strong recovery,” he said.
In terms of investment, India ranks fifth with a cumulative commitment of USD 70.7 billion in Africa, Jaishankar said.
“Indian industry has made sizeable commitments in oil and gas, mining, banking, textiles, automotive and agriculture, etc,” he said.
Jaishankar also touched upon expanding defence cooperation between the two sides, especially in the maritime security sphere.
“Given our proximity, it is also natural that our cooperation would extend to the domains of defence and maritime security,” he said.
The external affairs minister noted that India was associated with the establishment of defence institutions in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
“Our military training teams have worked with their counterparts in Botswana, Lesotho, Zambia, Uganda, Namibia, Tanzania, Mauritius and Seychelles,” he said.
“Our growing maritime security cooperation is centred around Mauritius and Seychelles, but now extends to coastal African nations as well,” he added.
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