India is one of the largest trade, investment and development partners of Africa: MOS Muraleedharan

Sep 24: Shri V. Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, was the anchor speaker at a session on the India-Africa Forum Summit-IV at the ongoing 15th CII-EXIM Bank Digital Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership in New Delhi today.

The other speakers at the session were HE Dr. Lemogang Kwape, Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana, HE Dr. Rania A Al Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation of the Arab Republic of Egypt, HE Eisenhower Mkaka, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Malawi and HE Lt. Gen. Dr Sibusiso B Moyo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Republic of Zimbabwe.

In his remarks, MOS Shri Muraleedharan began by observing some significant aspects of the India-Africa relationship: India is one of the largest trade, investment and development partners of Africa and offers a huge market for African commodities and products; India has stood by Africa and its people in the past and will continue to be a major development partner in the future as well. The India-Africa Forum Summit was cast in this tradition of enduring friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation between India and Africa. He recalled the 10 guiding principles of India’s approach to Africa as articulated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during his address to Parliament in Uganda in 2018.

The Minister of State detailed India’s careful implementation of the commitments made during the last India-Africa Forum Summit, noting that the Mid-Term Review Meeting on the Summit held in 2019 in New Delhi with the African Union Commission had also acknowledged this and had noted the 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. The MOS recapitulated two significant multilateral initiatives that India had launched after the last Summit, viz., the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, welcoming African participation in both of them. He noted that India had provided medical aid to 85 nations worldwide of which 25 were African countries.

Shri Muraleedharan recalled that the first-ever India-Africa Defence Ministers’ Conclave was held in Lucknow in February 2020 in which 146 delegates from 33 African countries had participated and which had adopted the Lucknow Declaration which appreciated that India and Africa were 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. He ended by hoping to hold the 4th edition of the India-Africa Forum Summit at the earliest feasible opportunity.

The African Ministers, in their statements, hailed India’s generous assistance and support to the development aspirations of Africa based on the enduring friendship between and shared aspirations of India and Africa. Several Ministers thanked India for the duty-free quota-free access to the Indian market that India had provided to African Least Development Countries (LDCs) since years. Some made specific mention of the support India had given to their Small and Medium Enterprises sector describing India as “an indispensable partner”. All the Ministers spoke warm words for the concessional loans that India had made available to African countries, especially over the last 5 years, observing that these loans and the preferential market access had supported African economies. Favourable mention was also made of how India was “helping Africa to bridge the digital divide” in particular the tele-education and tele-medicine services that India was making available across the African continent. The Ministers hailed the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and hoped that there would be a synergy between the outcome of India-Africa Forum Summit-IV and Africa’s Agenda 2063.

In the brief discussion that followed, the Ministers agreed on the need to strengthen the India-Africa partnership so as to overcome the effects of the pandemic. The Minister of State thanked the Ministers for their participation in the session.