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Speech by MOS at the 15th CII-EXIM Bank India-Africa Project Partnership Conclave

September 24, 2020

Your Excellencies,
The Hon. Dr. Lemogang Kwape, Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Republic of Botswana,
The Hon. Dr. Rania A. Al Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Arab Republic of Egypt,
The Hon. Eisenhower Mkaka, M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs, republic of Malawi
The Hon. Lt. Gen. Dr. Sibusiso B Moyo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Republic of Zimbabwe,
Shri Kuppuswamy, Co-Chair, CII Africa Committee
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,


Namaskaram and Good afternoon.


It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to join the foreign Ministers of Botswana, Egypt, Malawi and Zimbabwe this afternoon in CII-Exim bank India-Africa Conclave. Therefore, at the very outset, let me extend a warm welcome to your Excellencies and in the same note express my gratitude to you for finding time amidst your extremely busy schedule to join us in this forum.Excellencies, your presence here today not only symbolizes the strong partnership between India and Africa but also is a strong message that we will work together in seeking a better future to our people and our countries.

To borrow the words of South African leader and an Icon Nelson Mandela, India and Africa has been bound by a golden thread for many, many decades - a thread woven during the long, arduous and bitter years of struggle against common enemies: racism, imperialism and colonialism. Our strong relations after becoming independent nations have drawn so much on this common heritage, which inspires us even today to forge our partnerships not only in the bilateral sphere but also in regional and multilateral domains.

As Independent nations India and African countries have come a long way. We are able to meet the political aspirations of our people. Our economies are growing and we are seeking to trade more, invest in each others country and find greater synergy for our cooperation. Today, India is one of the largest trade, investment and development partner of Africa. India offers the second largest market for the African commodities and products and duty free access to the products of the Least Developed Countries of Africa. Though much potential remains to be exploited, India-Africa trade is robust, which has grown from USD 51.7 bn in 2010-11 to a healthy USD 66.7 bn in 2019-20. I am glad to note that not only India’s exports to Africa grew but Africa’s exports to India too increased by around USD 5 bn during this period. Today Africa’s market share stands at a healthy 8.0% in India’s overall import basket, while India contributes roughly 9% of Africa's total imports from outside the continent. Not only that India has also emerged as a major source of investment in the African continent.

Excellencies,

India stood by Africa and its people in the past; Today, India is a major development partner of African countries; and I am sure India will remain a major development partner for Africa in the future as well. This is a commitment that has been expressed by our leadership at the highest level, which at the same time also finds resonance among the ordinary people of our country. India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) is cast in this tradition of enduring friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation between India and the African countries. In its glorious journey,IAFS crossed a Rubicon in October 2015 when all the 54 countries of Africa, among them 40 countries represented at Heads of State/Government/Vice president level, took part in the Summit in New Delhi. That was the result of the vision and wisdom of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji, who always has attached highest priority to India’s relations with African Countries.

India’s approach to Africa has been borne out of its deeper understanding of the African nations, their people and their developmental aspirations. The 10 guiding principles articulated by our prime Minister Narendra Modi ji during his visit to Uganda in 2018, forms the core of this approach. He said and I quote,

"One, Africa will be at the top of our priorities. We will continue to intensify and deepen our engagement with Africa. As we have shown, it will be sustained and regular.

Two, our development partnership will be guided by Africa’s priorities. It will be on terms that will be comfortable for African countries, that will liberate their potential and not constrain their future. We will rely on African talent and skills. We will build as much local capacity and create as many local opportunities as possible.

Three, we will keep our markets open and make it easier and more attractive to trade with India. We will support our industry to invest in Africa.

Four, we will harness India’s experience with digital revolution to support Africa’s development; improve delivery of public services; extend education and health; spread digital literacy; expand financial inclusion; and mainstream the marginalised.

This will not just be our partnership to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but also to equip the youth of Africa for their place in the digital age.

Five, Africa has 60 per cent of the world’s arable land, but produces just 10 per cent of the global output. We will work with you to improve Africa’s agriculture.

Six, our partnership will address the challenges of climate change. We will work with Africa to ensure a just international climate order; to preserve our biodiversity; and, adopt clean and efficient energy sources.

Seven, we will strengthen our cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism; keeping our cyberspace safe and secure; and, supporting the UN in advancing and keeping peace;.

Eight, we will work with African nations to keep the oceans open and free for the benefit of all nations. The world needs cooperation and not competition in the eastern shores of Africa and the eastern Indian Ocean. That is why India’s vision of Indian Ocean Security is cooperative and inclusive, rooted in security and growth for all in the region.

Nine, and, this is especially important to me: as global engagement in Africa increases, we must all work together to ensure that Africa does not once again turn into a theatre of rival ambitions, but becomes a nursery for the aspirations of Africa’s youth.

Ten, Just as India and Africa fought colonial rule together, we will work together for a just, representative and democratic global order that has a voice and a role for one-third of humanity that lives in Africa and India. India's own quest for reforms in the global institutions is incomplete without an equal place for Africa. That will be a key purpose of our foreign policy.”

India’s initiatives under IAFS has been guided by these policy principles articulated by our Prime Minister. As you are aware, our External Affairs Minister had also elaborated on India’s approach to Africa in his key note address during the inaugural session of this Conclave.

Excellencies,

I am glad to inform you that India has already made a tremendous progress in implementing the commitments made during the last IAFS Summit. Over the last five years, India’s top leaders have made 34 visits to African nations; India had hosted nearly 100 African leaders for diverse bilateral and multilateral engagements; and we have also significantly increased our Diplomatic footprint in Africa with India now having residential diplomatic Mission in 38 African countries. As promised during the last IAFS, we have also held a successful Mid-Term Review Meeting on the Summit last September in New Delhi to discuss the state of most important areas of cooperation including trade and investment, agriculture, energy, blue and ocean economy, infrastructure, education and skill development, health, peace and security and cooperation in multilateral fora.

As we speak, today, India has executed 194 developmental projects in 37 African countries; currently working to complete 77 additional development projects in 29 countries, with a total outlay of USD 11.6 billion. Grants in Aid worth more than USD 700 million have been extended to African partner countries for projects in infrastructure, connectivity, skill development, security and health sectors. India is acutely aware of the needs of our African partners for skilled and trained manpower. Therefore, capacity building has always been one of the key components of India’s development assistance to Africa. We have provided capacity building training, both long-term at undergraduate and Masters level in various scientific, technological and management fields as well as short-term highly specialized one-to-three-month-long designer courses in diverse subjects like solar energy, business management, IT, highway engineering, health, water resource management and even training on drug regulatory practices for officials, practicing doctors and paramedics. These programmes have benefited over 40,000 African students, government officials and professionals since the last Summit. I am sure, all these efforts will help our African partners in their quest for social and economic development. We believe that India’s Development Assistance will promote greater technology penetration and investment in Africa creating durable infrastructure, generating fresh employment opportunities and promoting economic well being of its people.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me also take this opportunity to recapitulate two significant multilateral initiatives that India has launched in recent years that has a great bearing on increasing developing countries’ energy security and promoting sustainable development. We launched the International Solar Alliance in 2015 to help our partner countries utilize solar energy, reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and reduce emissions that cause global warming. It is gratifying that 38 African nations, as rich in solar energy as India, have joined this Alliance. The second coalition we seek to build is aimed at ensuring that all new infrastructure we build henceforth is disaster-resilient. It is estimated that, of the USD 94 trillion worth of infrastructure that will be built from now till 2040, between 50 and 60% of this investment will be made by developing countries. Thus the Coalition on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, or CDRI, seeks to establish a network to popularize good practices and develop appropriate standards to manage infrastructure development in a manner that fosters resilience. Membership of this Coalition will be particularly useful for developing countries in Africa as for India since we all need to ensure that our precious investments in infrastructure are not laid waste by the cyclones, tsunamis and other natural disasters that seem to be increasingly striking the world. The final structure and specific deliverables of this Coalition are being co-created by its member countries and I hope to see many of our African friends within this Coalition.

Ladies and gentlemen,

India’s relations with Africa has never been an one way journey. We understand and appreciate the priorities of our African partners. We are aware and have taken note of the Agenda 2063 aimed to achieve a more prosperous Africa through inclusive and sustainable development. The main element of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 and of Agenda 2063 is to ensure good health and wellness of all citizens by 2063 through access to affordable and quality health care services. India too is committed to the SDGs and its commitment to universal access to good quality health care, as outlined in its National Health Policy of 2017,has been factored into the India-Africa development partnership especially in those areas where Indian experience and remedies could be most suitably adapted to Africa’s health care needs.

In order to carry forward the strategic vision of the IAFS-III through a structured partnership in the health sector, my Ministry, in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), held the first India-Africa Health Sciences Meet in 2016 in New Delhi. Following this meeting, ICMR has taken the initiative to strengthen cooperation by establishing an India-Africa Health Sciences Collaborative Platform (IAHSP). A MOU has also been signed between the AU and India (ICMR) in March 2019 to cooperate in the areas of research & development, capacity building, health services, pharmaceutical trade and manufacturing capabilities for drugs and diagnostics. I believe, implementing this important MOU will be a crucial milestone in India-Africa health care collaboration, which will be mutually beneficial.

In February this year, first-ever India-Africa Defence Ministers’ Conclave was held in Lucknow in India. 146 delegates from 33 African countries participated at this Conclave, which had also adopted ‘Lucknow Declaration’ on 6 February 2020. The leaders appreciated that India and Africa are a significant part of the Indo-Pacific continuum and that the AU vision for peace and security in Africa coincided with India's vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) for the larger Indo-Pacific region. The Lucknow Declaration recognized "Silencing the Guns; Creating Conducive Conditions for African Development” as the African Union’s theme of the year.

In the run-up to the IAFS Summit this year, we had planned to hold the India-Africa Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting in mid-March 2020. We had already received the confirmation of many of our African colleagues to participate in this meeting. Unfortunately, that was the first major meeting to be postponed due to the pandemic. We had also planned to hold, later in the year but before the Summit, an India-Africa Health Ministers’ meeting with a special focus on the treatment and control of tuberculosis, an invisible but deadly scourge of the developing world. I hope very much that we succeed in holding these two meetings at the earliest possible occasion since I believe that we have much to learn from each other and India is certainly committed to sharing with our African partners the innovative expertise that she has developed in treating in a focused and effective manner this disease.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The reason we are not meeting for the 4th edition of the India Africa Forum Summit, which we certainly intended to hold in 2020 as agreed at our last Summit, is the extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime challenge of the Covid pandemic. The spread of the novel corona virus is certainly the most devastating global crisis since the second World War. We have attempted to help our partner nations through this crisis as we always have through other crises. Prime Minister Modi has had telephone conversations with many of his African counterparts over the past few months and has conveyed India’s full support for the joint African effort against the virus. Our external Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar, has also spoken to his counterparts in several African countries and offered assistance in our joint struggle and has also discussed matters of mutual bilateral and multilateral interest. India has provided medical aid to 85 nations worldwide, of which 25 countries are in Africa, in the form of supplies of essential drugs, including hydroxychloroquine or HCQ and 16 other essential drugs including life-saving antibiotics. Around 150 tons of medical aid worth nearly US$ 10 million has been, or is in the course of being, delivered to the continent of Africa.

While we continue with all the elements of the India-Africa partnership - the projects, the scholarships, the cash grants – even though the mandate of the India-Africa Forum Summit III was completed in March 2020, it would be most appropriate for all sides to hold the 4th edition of the India Africa Forum Summit at the earliest. I am confident that the intensive dialogue that will take place while preparing for the Summit and during the course of this Conclave will contribute towards that end. We look forward to holding the India Africa Forum Summit IV at the earliest feasible occasion.

Let me conclude by once again thanking the Ministers of Botswana, Egypt, Malawi and Zimbabwe. I would also like to congratulate CII and EXIM bank for putting together such a wonderful Digital Conclave on areas and issues of key priorities to both India and Africa.

Thank you. Jai Hind.

New Delhi
September 24, 2020

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