What is the India-Africa Forum Summit?
The Indian Prime Minister has been hosting a high-level meeting with leaders of African countries since 2008. It was decided to hold the summits every three years, alternately in India and Africa. New Delhi was the venue in 2008; Addis Ababa in 2011. The third summit, scheduled to be held in 2014, was postponed because of the Ebola outbreak, and will now be held in Delhi from October 26 to 30.
Which countries will participate?
For the first two summits, only 15 countries chosen by the African Union using the Banjul Formula, were invited. 14 countries participated in 2008; 11 in 2011. This year, all 54 African countries were invited. At least 41 countries will participate at the level of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister and King; 11 will be represented by ministers; 2 by officials. This is unprecedented. Similar summits hosted by the US, China and Japan have got participation of 48-50 countries.
Does New Delhi have the capacity to hold such a summit?
Vigyan Bhawan was found to be inadequate, so the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium has been refurbished. All leaders/representatives will sit at the same level, like at the G-20 or UNGA. Some 2,000 delegates are expected.
Why does India need to host such a summit?
India has significant political, strategic and economic stakes in engaging with Africa. Africa is very resource-rich, and has moved from being an underdeveloped continent to having several fast-growing economies, and new democracies. There are key shared interests in battling global terrorism, and piracy in the Indian Ocean. India’s ambition to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council makes it imperative that it engages with all 54 countries of the continent. New Delhi would also want a stronger partnership with Africa on climate change ahead of the COP-21 in Paris.
What has been India’s engagement with the African continent?
While China has been in Africa’s infrastructure, mining, oil and natural gas sectors for many years, India, despite moving late, has worked through training, education and capacity-building programmes — which have been very well-received by the countries. Over the last 15 years, India-Africa trade has gone up 20 times, and reached, according to the government, $ 70 billion. Indian investment in Africa is between $ 30 billion and $ 35 billion. India has given concessional credit to the tune of $ 7.4 billion, of which $ 3.5 billon has been disbursed. The credit lines have helped create 137 projects in 41 countries. A Pan-African e-Network for education and health is functional in 48 countries. Since 2008, India has extended 40,000 scholarships to African countries.
What is on the agenda of this IAFS?
Health, education, agriculture, training, etc. will remain the broad themes. More lines of credit could be extended. Indian officials have said its approach will be “non-prescriptive” and “non-exploitative”. An elaborate joint declaration covering all aspects of the growing relationship is in the works.