NEW DELHI: India and Africa will hold a mega review of their ties at a brainstorming session in Delhi this week eyeing to add strategic heft to their partnership that could lead to stronger military to military bonds.
The review meet that will feature senior Indian officials besides African Union representatives and Delhi-based envoys from Africa among other issues will focus on measures to expand defence and security partnership in the backdrop of Delhi's attempts to revive support and training program for militaries in the various African countries, ET has learnt.
India have had defence partnerships with Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia. Botswana, Uganda, Namibia and Mozambique and seeking to expand this to include more countries across the vast continent. It may be recalled that in the post-colonial Africa India had assisted to set up military academy in Ethiopia, defence college and Naval war college in Nigeria besides setting up air force in Ghana and training military personnel in number of African countries. Several Army Chiefs from Nigeria have been trained in India and Delhi is focussing on increasing joint military exercises with the African nations.
The military to military ties are being revived as India seeks to emerge as a net security provider in Africa amid common challenges from terrorism and piracy, according to officials. "India is increasingly seen as a net security provider for Africa, given our close defence and security relations with many African countries and the contribution of Indian Peacekeeping forces to the peace and stability of Africa. These links are poised to grow even further in the face of common challenges," T S Tirumurti Secretary (Economic Relations) MEA and pointsperson for Indo-African ties told ET.
Defence apart the focus of the brainstorming session will be review of implementation of outcomes from the third edition of the India-Africa summit held here in 2015 ahead of the next summit in Africa in 2020, according to officials. Over the past few years India has been able to offer 40,000 out of 50,000 training slots earmarked for African professionals besides exceeding grant by 100 mn usd to 700 mn usd from 600 million usd and extending six out of 10 bn usd Line of Credit for various development projects. There have 32 high level visits from India to Africa between 2015-19 so far which is a record of sorts. Vice President Venkaih Naidu is expected to visit few African countries next month.
Subsequent to the visit of 41 Heads of State/Heads of Government who attended the Summit in 2015, India has hosted over 35 leaders from Africa for various events in the last nearly five years. India has already opened 6 of the 18 additional Missions in Africa.
"We are guided by the vision of our Prime Minster for Africa and we are confident that this mid-term review will ensure that our development partnership with Africa remains robust, demand driven and comprehensive. I am happy that we are doing very well on many fronts. As Prime Minister has underlined, African priorities are our priorities," Tirumurti pointed out.
India's partnership with Africa is based on a model of cooperation which is responsive to the needs of African countries, officials said, adding, it is demand-driven and free of conditionalities.