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Keynote Address by Minister of State for External Affairs, Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh at the Africa Day Celebrations

May 25, 2022

His Excellency Mr. Alem Tsehaye Woldermariam, Dean of Diplomatic Corps,

Excellencies, Heads of Various Missions in New Delhi

Members of Diplomatic Corps

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

• It is an honour to be here today, to be able to celebrate Africa Day, with you. As we gather to mark and celebrate, the founding of the Organisation for African Unity in 1963; and indeed the attainment of independence; we also gather to celebrate the vibrant cultural identity and common heritage among African countries. The various cultures and ethnicities of Africa are familiar to India, since the era of the civilizations.

• From the age of colonialism to the age of globalization, through thick and thin, India and Africa have done much together. India and Africa have scaled heights, hand in hand, and will attain greater heights with more vigour and zeal in the years to come.

• The African and Indian experience of struggle for freedom from colonialism has been similar. Our oldest trade routes mark the passage of goods and ideas, to and from, the African subcontinent.

• Friends, in the spirit of "developing together as equals”, we have intensified our political engagement with Africa.

• In addition to 34 visits at the level of Heads of State and Heads of Government and Vice Presidents, each African nation has been visited by a Union Minister.

• As you are all aware, 41 Heads of State and Heads of Government had attended the Third India-Africa Forum Summit in 2015. We are happy that we could receive more than 100 African leaders, in the past five years alone, for various bilateral and multilateral engagements.

• Keeping in mind the need to intensify our engagements, India decided to open 18 new diplomatic missions in Africa in 2018, increasing our presence to 47 countries, out of the 54 nations in Africa.

• Our partnership is based on the principle of equality, mutual respect and benefit; in line with Africa-owned and Africa-led development.

• India-Africa partnership is defined by four established pillars of Development Partnerships, trade and investment; defence and maritime security; and robust people-to-people contacts.

• As we look forward to further strengthen our relationships, in recent years we are widening it to health, green and sustainable; and digital domains.

• It is a matter of satisfaction, that our Development Partnership initiatives have expanded, both in geographical reach and sectoral coverage. India’s Development Partnership was officially structured in 2008 through India-Africa Forum Summit. Today, I am happy to share that about two-thirds of India’s total Lines of Credit are offered to Africa. Africa today, is the second largest recipient of India’s concessional loans.

• So far, LoCs worth 12.26 Billion US Dollars have been extended to African countries for their socio-economic development. Under these LoCs, 193 projects have been completed and 66 projects are currently under execution and 88 projects are at pre-execution stage. These projects cover various sectors, from drinking water supply, agriculture mechanisation & irrigation to solar electrification, power plants, transmission lines. It covers projects for capacity building like cement plants to creation of Technology Park and railway infrastructure, etc.

• We have also extended 700 Million Dollars, as grant assistance on important projects to our African partners post IAFS-III.

• Excellencies, we are happy that India is one of the largest partners for Africa. Our bilateral trade stood at 69.7 Billion US Dollars in 2018-19.

This had slightly declined during the pandemic. But we have witnessed a strong recovery since.

• India today, is the fifth largest investor in Africa with cumulative investments at 70.7 Billion US Dollars, from 1996-2021. Indian investments are spread across various sectors. We are happy that our companies have contributed to the welfare of thousands of local citizens.

• India offers Africa an honest and attractive commercial partnership with open space to maximize trade potential in Indian markets. It is a matter of satisfaction that 38 African nations have benefited from Government of India’s Duty Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) scheme, which provides duty free access to 98.2 per cent of India’s total tariff lines.

• African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement which has come into force from January last year; would provide an additional impetus to further deepen India -Africa trade and commerce.

• Friends, India extends a human touch in its association with Africa, facilitating capacity building & skill development among African youth. During the Third India Africa Forum Summit, we announced doubling of the scholarships offered under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme and various other scholarship schemes to 50,000 over a period of five years. 32,000 scholarships have been availed of by our African youth.

• We are happy that not only thousands of African students are pursuing their higher education in India, but many Indian teachers are contributing positively to the education of young Africans, contributing in nation building and development of the societies.

• In our effort to bridge the digital divide, the first phase of the Pan Africa e-Network was completed in 2017. The second phase under the name of e-VidyaBharati for tele-education and e-ArogyaBharati for telemedicine with was launched in October 2019. So far, 19 African countries have become partners in this initiative.

• As we look to leverage ICT in education and medical service delivery, we are confident that these initiatives will positively enhance easy access to quality education and medical services for our friends in Africa.

• Friends in the realm of maritime security co-operation, our policy of SAGAR, "Security and Growth for All in the Region” augurs well. India has been the first responder in crisis situations, be it in evacuation efforts or supplying relief materials, during difficult hours.

• I would like to cite examples of HADR operations such as Operation Sahayata to assist cyclone-hit Mozambique in 2019 and Operation Vanilla to provide relief to flood victims in Madagascar in 2020 which we undertook in recent years, in Africa.

• Our joint capacity building efforts in the areas of counter-terrorism and anti-piracy, to ensure free and secure maritime navigation, should also be highlighted. Our efforts like setting up of Defence Academies and Colleges and deployment of training teams in several African countries, will go a long way to enhance our security co-operation.

• Goodwill visits by naval ships, and a multitude of Defence Training Programmes are now a regular part of India’s defence cooperation with African nations.

• By holding the first India-Africa Defence Ministers’ Conclave in conjunction with DEFEXPO INDIA in February 2020, India institutionalized its Defence Cooperation with Africa. The second edition of India-Africa Defence Dialogue on the sidelines of DEFEXPO was to be held earlier this year at Gandhinagar, Gujarat. But we had to postpone it due to unavoidable circumstances.

• Friends, for peace and stability in the African continent, presently 4483 Indian security personnel are serving in five peacekeeping operations in Africa including UNMISS, MONUSCO; which are important for African Union’s vision of "Silencing the Guns”.

• Excellencies, as African Union marks 2022 as the "Year of Nutrition” with the aim of strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security in the African continent, we stand with you.

• With significant arable land and trained human capital in the agricultural sector, Africa offers a win- win opportunity for all. We should together encourage our private enterprises to tap the opportunity to invest in the agricultural sector, primary production and value chain creation. India, of course, would be happy to share its experience and experts.

• Let me conclude my remarks, by taking excerpts from Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s speech at the Ugandan Parliament in 2019....

"India’s priority is not just Africa; India’s priority is Africans – every man, woman and child in Africa. Our partnership with Africa is beyond strategic concerns and economic benefits. It is based on the emotional bonds we share and the solidarity we feel."

• Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity to celebrate together.

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