India raising a toast for Africa

  • August 16, 2016

Modi’s Four Nation Tour to Africa

Since time immemorial, India has considered Africa as an auspicious market for Indian goods, services, and investments. This is apparent in the government’s recent determined focus on the India-Africa relationship – high profile visits by top leaders of India to African countries, a recasting of India’s development diplomacy, and an attempt to match action to past promises. In the same vein, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a journey to four African nations (Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya) from July 7-11.

“Our approach to partnership with Africa is driven by the aim of empowerment, capacity building, human resource development, access to Indian market, and support for Indian investments in Africa, so that the people of Africa have the capacity to make their own free choices and the capability to shoulder the responsibility of their continent’s development. Our relationship with Africa is unique,” said the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India’s association with Africa has gone through an extraordinary intensification in the last month. In the first week of June, Vice President Hamid Ansari visited Tunisia and Morocco. In the second week, President Pranab Mukherjee embarked on a tour of western and southern Africa, covering Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Namibia. And in July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya. Incidentally, all these four countries that Prime Minister Modi plans to visit have coasts that opens up to the Indian Ocean.

The Vice President’s visits to Morocco and Tunisia are vital since India imports phosphate – a critical raw material for fertilizer production – from these countries. The Vice President also inaugurated an India- Morocco Chamber of Commerce during his trip to Rabat. The President’s three-country tour provided an opportunity to further boost India’s business interests in these countries.

High on the agenda of Prime Minister’s Modi visit is expanding energy ties, maritime security and enhanced co-operation in intelligence sharing with Africa. India plans to extend developmental support to Tanzania and Kenya for building road and port infrastructure and discuss ways to combat Islamic terrorism with the rise of Al Shahab jihadist group. India is also looking for a maritime security tie-up with the two countries to fight a growing pirate menace off the coast of Africa. Besides, the Indian diaspora is present in large numbers in these nations. India needs Africa for its own growth; with China increasing its footprint in the continent by utilizing natural resources through joint venture sand private investment.

In a progressively growing world, Africa is a significant companion for India on all global strategic issues. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions with enormous natural resources. It offers not only these resources to India’s growing needs but also a vast market for Indian companies for trade and investment. Identifying the development potential of Africa, India in recent years has made unrelenting efforts to upsurge it’s trade, investment and is assisting in capacity building to lift the dynamics of South-South Cooperation. The present renewed outreach is also fearless about business, and is setting a good example of geo-politics merging with geoeconomics. Indian leaders are also looking for renewed investment opportunities for Indian public and private sector companies in different African countries.

Mozambique hosts approximately 25% of Indian investments in Africa. The trade between two countries has multiplied five times in the last five years. India is indeed enchanted to be a development partner for Mozambique in numerous areas, including agriculture, healthcare, energy, infrastructure and human resource development. The leadership of the two countries have maintained affable and friendly rapport. There have been regular high-level exchanges and interactions in a number of fields. On his visit to India in 2015, Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi said he aimed to establish a strong economic partnership with India.

“This is my first visit to Asia after I took over as president of the Republic of Mozambique six months ago. I decided to visit India first in Asia, since we intend to have a strong economic partnership with India,” Nyusi said.

India and Mozambique signed a memorandum of understanding intended at solidifying bilateral cooperation in new and renewable energy as art of the state visit by the President of Mozambique to India. “The doors are, however, open to investments in other sectors such as transport, water and sanitation, tourism, communications and infrastructure, but the priority should be given to agriculture, because there are business people from both countries working on identifying potential investments,” Nyusi said. During his visit, Nyusi invited the Indian Prime Minister to travel to Mozambique, to reinforce relations of friendship and collaboration between the two countries.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Mozambique is momentous as the country is home to a bulk of India’s Africa-bound investment. Energy dialogue amid two sides has been progressively rising since the India Africa Forum Summit, when Carlos Augustinho Do Rosario, Prime Minister of Mozambique deliberated the possibility of expanding energy ties. This visit will also be a reciprocation as Mozambique was amongst the first countries in Africa to engage with the Modi government. Moreover, Mozambique is likely to become a major energy exporter like Nigeria if it can set an appropriate legal framework to permit foreign firms to explore oil and gas in the country. India has been a major campaigner to facilitate the pro-energy legal framework in the country.

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