India and Africa have a plethora of areas in which they can collaborate, evidence of the maturity that now denotes their relationship. These include trade and investment, development and democracy, technology and education, maritime security and counter terrorism. This was highlighted by the contributors to the book India & Africa: Towards a New Dawn, edited by Pramit Pal Chaudhuri and published by Ananta Aspen Centre.
Speaking on the occasion, Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament and Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, highlighted the new areas of collaborations in the sectors of food and agriculture. He said that the relations with Africa, especially with Mozambique has touched a new heights in the last decade which resulted into new tie ups for producing pulses in the country to meet the demands from India.
Tharoor who has written the foreword of the book, further said that trade is under exploited with only USD 90 billion right now. He also believed “there is a need to move beyond raw materials with an opportunity to explore other options between the regions.” He also underlined the great interest of Indian companies, particularly telecom industry to invest in West Africa as it gives tremendous returns.
Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor at Hindustan Times while releasing the book highlighted that “there has been an enormous surge in the economic relationship between the two regions as they continue to share a strong economic backbone, security relationship, and historical legacy.” He also made an observation about India’s constant comparison with China which he felt was completely inappropriate as China is much bigger than India in terms of its economy.
The High Commissioner of Rwanda to India Ernest Rwamucyo asserted that he saw great potential in three major areas- Trade and Investment, Development Cooperation and People to People Connections. He further emphasized that “Indians have been in Africa for centuries and continue to play a constructive role in their economy, academia and research. Trade between India and Africa has grown but its volume and quality has to improve.”
The High Commissioner said that there is big potential of exchanging of knowledge in various aspects in agriculture, dairy and animal husbandry. Citing an example, he said, “Punjab Agriculture University has developed such cow breeds which produce 45-50 litre milk per day. Such information can be shared with African countries also. On the other hand, India gets rains only in the monsoon season and faces water shortage in the summers which poses challenges for agriculture sector. The successful water management technologies of Africa can be shared with India. The mutual collaboration and exchange of knowledge will write a new growth story in Indian and African economies.”
Lt Gen. Satish Nambiar, Distinguished Fellow, IDSA and former Deputy Chief, Indian Army talked about the long association of Indian Armed Forces with Africa. He further said that “India has participated in every peacekeeping operation in Africa and out of its 16 peacekeeping operations, 9 were in Africa. India’s involvement continues to be its commitment to the stability in Africa.”
The discussion concluded accentuating the need for India to be involved more strongly in trade and investment in the African continent with information technology and communications taking the lead and driving it forward.