The recently-concluded India Africa Forum Summit involved perhaps the largest participation of African countries on one platform. It has been estimated that almost 1000 delegates represented 54 countries that presently call themselves the members of the African Union. Normally, such events would have their usual diplomatic importance, but if Sushma Swaraj is to be believed then the summit has also provided a golden opportunity to improve the trade and investment scenario. The Union External Affairs Minister even termed this gathering as a family reunion. She further stated that it is important to collaborate with other countries in order to be able to develop in the long run, citing an African proverb in order to substantiate her statement.
Bettering relationship with Africa
One of the major aims behind this event was to improve the relations between India and Africa. As a part of the stated aim, India and the members of the African Union will look to partake in more trade and investments. At present, China is the greatest bilateral trade partner of India with the estimated worth of trade between the countries being more than 200 billion dollars. While speaking to the media on the event, Narendra Modi has expressed hope that the present summit will take relations between both the countries to new heights.
The Humanitarian Context
Together India and the 54 African countries that participated in the recently-concluded summit comprise one-third of the global population. So, in that context it can be called one of the most important global meets of recent times, considering the fact that they represent the aspirations of so many people. This is also something that Narendra Modi has alluded to in his recent speech. The Indian Prime Minister has described the bond between India and Africa as being an emotional one, something that is beyond the normal strategic relationships that define these events. This is also supposed to be the largest gathering of African countries outside their own continent, thus giving India an excellent opportunity to reach out to these countries and establish their importance in the region.
In his speech, the Indian Prime Minister has professed commitment on behalf of India to play an important role in the development of African countries and in helping them counter the different challenges that are impeding their growth. He also spoke in great detail about the bonds that the two regions share in terms of civilization and history, bringing up how both have fought against ills such as colonialism, hunger, and poverty, and for values such as dignity and liberty.
The Demographic Advantage
Both India and Africa have a major advantage in the sense that majority of the population in these areas is under the 35 year limit. This is something that Narendra Modi referred to in his speech as well. He has said that this is a capital to be invested in keeping their future in mind. He has gone so far as to say that the coming century could very well be theirs if youth was the watchword for development. He has pointed out Africa has taken massive leaps in various social and economic areas. Over the years Africa has faced many problems such as terrorism, but continued to attain a greater rate of development nonetheless. In his speech, the Prime Minister of India has further asked the African countries to come together and combat terrorism and ensure greater security from the maritime perspective. He has also asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to be reformed so that India and African countries can get the representation that they deserve.
How can India help?
In his speech the Indian Prime Minister has made clear the pathways in which India will be able to play a role in Africa’s growth. He has stated that India can help bring down the digital gap in Africa and also cooperate with them from an economic viewpoint. Both India and Africa will also collaborate at the upcoming environmental summit in Paris. There they can ask the developed countries to take heed of the greater measures for adoption and mitigation that need to be taken so that the developing countries get the technology and finance needed to implement them properly.