Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government continued their aggressive pursuance of carving out a niche for India in International Diplomacy by hosting the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit at New Delhi. The summit hosted dignitaries from 54 African countries in this edition of the event which is the largest participation of African Countries in this event, seeing an increase from a participation of 14 African countries and 15 African countries in the first and second edition of the Summit respectively. The Summit commenced on the 26th of October, 2015 to the 29th of October, 2015.
The official website of the India-Africa Forum Summit describes it as “a celebration of the close partnership between Africa and India, acknowledging a shared history as well as future prospects.” This is India’s single-largest diplomatic outreach program with Africa, with an estimated 1000 diplomats attending the Summit at New Delhi, which saw participation from three levels of the attending countries: The head of the government, foreign ministers and senior officials.
The Summit was scheduled to be held in the month of December, 2014; however, it had to be rescheduled due to the outbreak of Ebola in the continent of Africa. The UN Security Council had also declared the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa a “threat to international peace and security”. The deadly Ebola virus that hit the region last year has killed thousands of people in several African countries.
Nonetheless, the rescheduling of the event can be said to have benefitted the incumbent BJP-led Government at the centre as it coincides with India’s campaign for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, which was one of the major issues of discussion in India’s agenda for the summit. Prime Minister Modi said that India and Africa must speak in ‘One Voice’ to push for reforms in the United Nations Security Council. “These institutions have served us well, but unless they adjust to the changing world, they risk becoming irrelevant. We cannot say what will replace them in an uncertain future. But we might have a more fragmented world that is less capable of dealing with the challenges of our era. That is why India advocates reforms in global institutions,” he said.
While most of the African leaders did not disclose their stance on India’s aspirations for reforms in the Security Council, some leaders were extremely vocal in their support for the same. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe joined India in strongly pitching for the UN reforms, adding that there should be two seats for African countries in the reformed Security Council and one for India. South African President Jacob Zuma, who is part of G-4 grouping, also strongly backed India’s candidature for the UNSC seat.
India, in pursuance of its aspirations for playing a more proactive role on the international stage, pulled out all the stops to charm the African Leaders by announcing $600 million in assistance for aiding development projects in Africa, of which $100 million would go towards a new India-Africa Development Fund and $10 million to an India-Africa Health Fund. India also promised $10 billion in new soft loans, in addition to $7.4 billion in soft loans and $1.2 billion in aid provided since the first India-Africa summit in 2008.
Yet India, soon to become the world’s most populous country, has its work cut out to catch up with China, whose annual trade with Africa is three times larger than its own $72 billion. However, the Indian economy and trade has been showcasing a positive trend in the recent times, and such a summit can only act as a stimulant to the further development of economic relations. While the majority of the world’s poor are still concentrated in Africa and India, the regions have been showcasing a high rate of economic growth which points towards a positive future for its people.
The success of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit demonstrates more than ever the fact that the fires of the dream of a Vibrant India and a Resurgent Africa continue to burn brightly.
– Pritam Dey