India and Africa have several profound reasons for strategic, balanced and responsible partnership in the 21st Century.In the words of Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, “though separated by the Indian Ocean; Africa is in a sense our next door neighbour.”
The relationship between Africa and India dates back to thousands of years. India and Africa are not discovering each other now. They are bound together by very long traditions of friendship and common historical struggle against the evils of colonialism, apartheid, racism and injustice. This common historical background and a successful achievement of independence is one of the great opportunities for strengthening the India-Africa strategic partnership.
India and Africa are keen to work together for better and greater representation in international forums, so as to have their voice in international decision making. India has launched and successfully implemented a number of initiatives to support various aspects of the continent’s peace, stability and development.
Such efforts have been visible in areas such as the Human Resources Development and Capacity Building. Many Africans are being trained in Indian universities. Other short term courses are being conducted under the ICCR and ITEC scholarship schemes respectively. ITEC has been training more than 1000 beneficiaries per annum from the Sub-Saharan Africa since 1964. India has also launched many Lines of Credit to Africa to help its process of development. India has announced the e-connectivity programme which will benefit 53 countries of the African Union to boost development in tele-education and tele-medicine. Apart from supporting the Peace keeping process in many countries in Africa, India has provided technical assistance to the continent under the South-South Co-operation. All of Africa acknowledges these important initiatives of India in the context of Indo-Africa partnership.
Although the Indo- Africa relationship faces challenges, the strategic partnership should bring solutions for the various issues which are included in the African Programme namely NEPAD (The New Partnership for Africa’s Development). Some of the issues include: Raising the level of investments in human capital development in Africa; Promoting more capacity building, technology acquisitions as well as knowledge generation sharing and applications; Acceleration of African Industrialization so as to add value to the huge African natural resources and get good, fair and competitive prices for the African goods and acceleration of development of infrastructure which will facilitate intra-Africa trade and economic development in the continent. Other issues include enhancing economic co-operation, trade and improved market access for African products and sharing India’s experience on green revolution for boosting agricultural products so as to combat hunger and disease in Africa. Combating hunger and disease in Africa are key areas of Indo-Africa strategic partnership to meet the first Millennium Development Goal, which aims at reducing the proportion of the hungry people by half by 2015.
There are huge opportunities of investment in Africa. Determined to raise its share in the world trade, African countries are making significant changes in economic and social development. True transformation in the rural development: all inclusive health care, rapid growth in educational sector, rule of law; good governance as well as the democratic culture, are deepening their roots in African countries. We should try our level best to accelerate these economic and social developments through a strengthened India-Africa Partnership in this 21st Century.
Together we will succeed as together, we were victorious yesterday against colonialism, apartheid, racism and injustice. Let us interact and work together for a flourished, deep and everlasting partnership between Africa and India where African countries would provide opportunities for investment, trade and industrialization of their untapped natural resources and in turn India will share with Africa, its advanced technology and technical expertise, suitable for African countries.
I look forward for a bright future of a strong Indo-Africa Partnership in this 21st Century.