India and Africa: a crucial relationship

Last July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an official visit to our continent, meeting with Heads of States in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa. Notably, his arrival in Mozambique marked the first time an Indian Prime Minister visited the East African Nation in 34 years.

The visit was meant to deepen and strengthen India-Africa partnerships and agreements, in line with the 2015 Third Africa-India Summit, which emphasized the necessity of increased diplomatic relations. This is a very good thing! Let me explain why.

First, India is Africa’s fourth largest trading partner, with trade flows of $70 billion in 2015.  Besides, India and Africa represent one-third of the world’s population and a large majority of them are in their youth. Thus, their partnership can be a source of great strength for each other, both to reinforce and accelerate their respective economic development.

I think that the future of India and Africa can shape the course of this world. Therefore, we need to learn from each other’s experience. For instance, African countries can benefit from India’s approach to guarantee access to higher education to those from poorer homes. India has a great role to play in Africa regarding the development of human resources through education, vocational training and skills development. This, among others, can help Africa upskill its people for its impending demographic challenges.

On the other side, India needs to join forces with our fast-growing African market. Let us not forget that Africa’s development is a huge opportunity for India: Indian companies are more and more numerous in Africa (as an example, Indian firms have invested heavily in natural gas projects in Mozambique and are exploring the potential for others in Tanzania). Also, we should benefit from the considerable progress in agriculture that India made over the last few decades. Indeed, Indian success has taken place in the context of low capital intensity farming and varied biodiversity conditions, which can be of great relevance to our continent. Together, we can address more efficiently emerging challenges: climate resilient agriculture and adaptation to climate change to name a few.

Today, to lead our continent towards a long-term development, I think we need to multiply partnerships with countries and regions of the world that can help us to have a new approach in various fields, and bring investments with them. China is not the only one to be considered. All countries are welcome players and a competitive engagement could be beneficial. Let us open ourselves to the world so as to attract investors and develop win-win partnerships! This is the way we will strengthen our role on the world stage.

 

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