Agriculture, blue economy, security key aspects of India-Africa ties

New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) Agriculture, blue economy and security are key aspects of India’s ties with African countries, a senior official said on Friday.

Addressing the media ahead of the third India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) to be held from October 46 to 29, Secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, Navtej Sarna, said that India’s approach to ties with African countries was that of partnership.

“India has played a key role in terms of security in Africa. We have had 11 peace keeping forces.

“Even now, we have four peace keeping forces deployed there and 4,500 security security personnel on the ground there.”

Sarna also said that Indian Navy has also played a key role in the east coast of Africa in terms of curbing piracy.

Blue economy was another area of cooperation India was building on with Africa, he noted.

“Blue economy or ocean economy is very important for Africa. We are in talks with countries like Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles and Mauritius,” he said.

He identified agriculture as another area of partnership.

“Despite having vast arable land, Africa still needs to get food from outside,” said Sarna, adding that getting people from outside to farm agricultural land would be another point of discussion among the leaders.

He said that India’s trade with Africa now stands at $70 billion.

“India has given a line of credit of $7.4 billion to Africa which is being utilised in 137 projects across 41 countries,” he said.

Education and skill development is another area crucial to India-Africa relations.

“Between the first (IAFS) summit and the second, India offered 15,000 scholarships and between the second and the third 25,000,” Sarna said.

Noting Africa is 10 times the size of India, he said that the continent and India have together a population of 2.3 billion, which is one-third of the world’s total population. He also stressed there is a 2.7 million strong Indian diaspora in Africa.

Stressing India and Africa have been “brothers in arms in the fight against apartheid and colonialism”, he said that there is a positive move towards democracy among African countries and following the adoption of the Agenda 2063 by the African Union, India is aligning its relations with Africa alongside this agenda.

According to Syed Akbaruddin, additional secretary in the ministry and chief coordinator of IAFS, all the Indian chambers of business and industry have together to put up an exhibition in the upcoming summit.

“The exhibition will cover five themes – energy, health, infrastructure, technology and innovation,” he said.

“We expect around 400 businessmen from Africa to attend the summit,” he added.

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