From help to fight the Boko Haram extremist outfit to expertise in taking care of cattle, African ministers sought India’s help in a variety of sectors as they met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Tuesday. They also asked for help to reconstruct an island destroyed in a volcanic eruption and set up a hospital in the world’s youngest country, as well as better defence technology and private investments in road and highways.
The ministers and officials are in New Delhi for the third India-Africa Forum Summit, to be held between October 26 and 30. Foreign ministers from African countries met Swaraj at separate bilateral meetings Tuesday.
Cameroon Foreign Minister Lejeune Mbella asked Swaraj for help in fighting Boko Haram, which has spread in Nigeria and several neighbouring countries. “The experts will have to discuss what kind of counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency training we can give. It will have to be discussed whether our experts will go there or their troops will come here,” Ministry of External Affairs joint secretary (southern Africa) Sanjeev Kohli said, adding that Delhi has responded “positively” to the request. Cameroon also sought private sector investments in roads and highways, water and energy conservation.
South Sudan Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin asked for Indian assistance in managing livestock in their country, as he felt India has experience in taking care of 14 million cattle. Benjamin also asked for help in setting up a hospital in Juba, South Sudan’s capital. Swaraj, on her part, asked for the South Sudan government’s intervention in providing security so that work on an oilfield in that country — which has stopped due to political violence — can be resumed.
Cape Verde Foreign Minister Jorge Homero Tolentino Homejo asked for India’s help in the reconstruction of one of the islands destroyed due to a volcano late last year.
Three villages on Fogo island have been abandoned and thousands of residents have had to be evacuated. Homejo also asked for help in the social sector, and Swaraj requested her to present specific proposals for her to consider.
South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who hailed Mahatma Gandhi as a shared icon for the two countries, said that the defence technology developed as part of the Make-in-India campaign could be “beneficial” for many African countries. Keen on partnership on food security, she also sought more scholarships and technical assistance.
Malawi Foreign Minister George Chaponda asked for Indian assistance to develop small-scale mining. The country also supported India’s bid for the UN Security Council seat.
Zimbabwe’s representative, who described ties with India as “all-season friendship”, asked Swaraj for assistance in agriculture.
The representative of Ghana, whose trade with India has doubled in recent years, praised the Indian diaspora and sought more development assistance.