Thursday, October 29, 2015

Indo African summit and its importance


Despite minimal coverage by English MSM on path breaking Africa Summit, Policy makers believe that this is one of the most important engagements witnessed in decades. 54 heads of state from across Africa attended this India-Africa Forum Summit.
Following are the reasons why it is important:

1. India has extended invitation to all the 54 countries of Africa and it is biggest diplomatic outreach program of India so far. It will be largest gathering of international leaders since Indira Gandhi’s efforts to host NAM Summit in 1983 when 51 leaders from 91 countries have participated.
2. Issues of major focus would be boosting trade, strengthening security cooperation to combat terrorism and extending cooperation on poverty alleviation programs and disease eradication.
3. Realizing the potential of largely untapped resources countries like the US, EU, China and Japan started making huge investments to flag off their enterprises. India is yet to capitalize on its long history and deep social networks. Bilateral trade was a modest $1 billion in 1995 slowly risen to $38 billion in 2008 is now $70 billion. While Indian exports to Africa are increasing at a rate of 23.6% Africa has managed to record trade surplus with India registering a 32.2% increase annually. The top six countries Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco makeup for 89% of total Indian imports that include oil, natural gas, ores and Gold and contribute to Africa’s trade surplus. 
4. India imports 15% of its oil from Nigeria. A better relationship will reduce dependency on Middle East. 
5. Note that China’s investment is booming in Africa and its bilateral trade volume has reached $210.2 billion. China knows Africa's significance. It is home to 30 % of all minerals found in the World and as such is a tremendous resource partner. 
6. One positive aspect is that while Beijing’s investment are perceived to be an opportunistic, mercantile exercise espousing traces of racial discrimination. Indian engagement with Africa has been different and its contribution towards capacity building, providing skill enhancement to youth, IT training programs and providing scholarships has been hailed by African community.