Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] Drawing closer in crisis

The World Bank’s Africa’s Pulse, a biannual analysis, assessed that the COVID-19 outbreak has sparked off the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region’s first recession in 25 years.
By IASToppers
May 29, 2020

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Africa’s perilous situation amid COVID-19
  • Africa’s relation with China
  • Africa’s relation with other countries
  • India-Africa Relations
  • Suggestions for deepening India’s engagement with Africa
  • Conclusion

Drawing closer in crisis

For IASToppers’ Editorial Simplified Archive, click here

Introduction

  • Africa Day is observed every year on May 25 to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (now known as the African Union).
  • The Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses has hosted an Africa Day Round Table annually for the last four years.

Africa’s perilous situation amid COVID-19

  • With high rates of HIV, malaria, diabetes, hypertension and malnourishment prevalent, a large number of Africans were already faced with a health and economic crisis.
  • The steep decline in commodity prices has spelt disaster for the economies of Nigeria, Zambia and Angola.
  • Together, African countries have sought a $100 billion rescue package, including a $44 billion waiver of interest payment by the world’s 20 largest economies.
  • The IMF’s debt service relief of $500 million is meant for 25 countries of which 19 are in Africa.
  • It is clear that without outside support, Africa will find it very difficult to meet the challenge.

Africa’s relation with China

  • China’s engagement of Africa is huge but increasingly regarded as predatory and exploitative.
  • Having famously built the 1,860 km Tanzania-Zambia railway line in 1975, and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti and Mombasa-Nairobi lines more recently, China is now eyeing to develop the vast East Africa Master Railway Plan.
  • It is also developing the Trans-Maghreb Highway, the Mambilla Hydropower Plant in Nigeria, the Walvis Bay Container Terminal in Windhoek and the Caculo Cabaca Hydropower project in Angola.
  • At the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (COCAC) in 2018, China set aside $60 billion in developmental assistance, followed by a whopping $1 billion Belt and Road (BRI) Infrastructure Fund for Africa.

Africa’s relation with other countries

  • Japan hosted the 7th Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) in August 2019.
  • Russia hosted the first-ever Russia-Africa Summit last year.
  • Brazil, home to the largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa, has also sought to develop closer ties.
  • Cuba has sent medical teams to help Africa.

India-Africa Relations:

  • In the last few years, Prime Minister of India has redefined India’s relations with Africa.
  • India-Africa trade reached $62 billion in 2018 compared to $39 billion during 2009-10.
  • After South Asia, Africa is the second-largest recipient of Indian overseas assistance with Lines of Credit (LOC) worth nearly $10 billion (42 % of the total) spread over 100 projects in 41 countries.
  • 40% of all training and capacity building slots under the Indian Technical and Economic cooperation (ITEC) programme have traditionally been reserved for Africa.
  • Approximately 6,000 Indian soldiers are deployed in UN peace-keeping missions in five conflict zones in Africa.
  • Bilateral cooperation includes solar energy development, information technology, cyber security, maritime security, disaster relief, counter-terrorism and military training.
  • India has also launched several initiatives to develop closer relations, including the first-ever India Africa Defence Ministers conclave in February 2020 on the margins of the Defence Expo 2020.
  • India provides about 50,000 scholarships to African students each year. The huge Indian diaspora is a major asset.
  • India had planned to host the Fourth India Africa Forum Summit in September 2020.
  • India has already despatched medical assistance to 25 African countries and reiterate India’s support in the fight against the coronavirus.

Suggestions for deepening India’s engagement with Africa

  • India could consider structuring a series of virtual summits in zonal groups with African leaders across the continent over the next few months that could both provide a platform for a cooperative response to the pandemic and also serve as a precursor to the actual summit in the future.
  • The Aarogya Setu App and the E-Gram Swaraj App for rural areas for mapping COVID-19 are technological achievements that could be shared with Africa.
  • Since the movement of African students to India for higher education has been disrupted, India may expand the e-VidyaBharti (tele education) project to establish an India-Africa Virtual University.
  • Agriculture and food security can also be a fulcrum for deepening ties.
  • With the locust scourge devastating the Horn of Africa and the pandemic worsening the food crisis, India could ramp up its collaboration in this sector.
  • India could also create a new fund for Africa and adapt its grant-in-aid assistance to reflect the current priorities. This could include support for new investment projects by Indian entrepreneurs especially in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors in Africa.

Conclusion

  • India and Africa share a rich history of cultural, economic, and political interactions, rooted in the spirit of developing together as equals.
  • Indeed, India-Africa ties may yet redefine the contours of the international order along more egalitarian lines. 
  • However, despite robust engagement for over 70 years, the Indian government has not had a clear, long-term strategy for its relations with the continent. 
  • Though the pandemic is a colossal challeng, it may create fresh opportunities to bring India and Africa closer together.
Topics
Mains 2020 Editorial Notes
Tags

IT on Facebook

Facebook Pagelike Widget

Comments

Calendar Archive

September 2020
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930