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Keynote Address by External Affairs Minister at the inaugural session of the 16th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India & Africa Project Partnership

Posted on: July 15, 2021 | Back | Print

July 13, 2021

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen,

Please accept my warm greetings on the occasion of the 16th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India and Africa Project Partnership. The theme "Harnessing the Africa-India Opportunity: Connect, Create and Collaborate” speaks for itself.

2. Over the last 15 editions, this Conclave has helped build bridges and strengthen economic and commercial engagement. It has created capacities, encouraged networking and widened horizons. The results of that are visible in India’s growing presence in Africa, as much as in Africa’s deeper collaboration with Indian institutions and companies. As we seek to come out of the Covid pandemic, this partnership assumes an even greater salience.

3. India’s approach to development partnership with Africa is guided by the Kampala Principles enunciated by Prime Minister Modi in 2018. Our activities and initiatives are designed to respond to the needs of Africa and the priorities of its people. It envisages co-capabilities and co-benefits, while promoting local ownership. As a result, we see a unique level of trust that is even more valuable as we contemplate the challenges ahead.

4. In a post-Covid scenario, there are four domains that should become the focus of our collaborative activities: (i) public health, (ii) digital delivery, (iii) skilling and capacity building, and (iv) green economy.

5. There is no doubt that in Africa, as in other parts of the world, the Covid pandemic has created a new awareness and demand on the public health side. Inequity in access to medicines and vaccines has further highlighted problems. On its part, India envisages health cooperation as reflecting our Global South solidarity. Prime Minister Modi’s call for "One Earth One Health” approach underlines our continuing commitment, already evident in the supply of medicines and vaccines to many nations of Africa.

6. The Covid era has also seen a visible shift to greater digital dependence. Our goal must be to use these new tools and practices for better delivery on the ground. As part of our commitment to ‘Data for Development’, we support digital platforms and e-governance efforts in a range of domains. Already, India launched the e-Vidya Bharti and e-Arogya Bharti network in 2019 on tele-education and tele-medicine. 17 African countries have joined the project so far. Our initiative #SheGoesDigital has been particularly well received. The ability to offer education, skills and training through the digital medium vastly expands the numbers who have been covered earlier under the ITEC and ICCR scholarships. These investments in human capital are a statement of India’s expectations of Africa and our belief in building a truly collaborative and mutually beneficial partnership.

7. India is also committed to supporting Africa’s energy transition through rapid deployment of clean energy technologies. African nations have shown great interest in the International Solar Alliance. Whether it is in power, water or agriculture, a closer collaboration can help build Africa greener. Indeed, the full potential of our green technologies and practices should be more aggressively exploited in the days to come.

8. India has a long history in defence and security cooperation with Africa. That is today being updated to meet more contemporary challenges. Our involvement in HADR operations has been notable, such as during cyclone Idai in Mozambique. We are open to expanding cooperation in maritime safety and security, given the increase in non-traditional threats faced by many African littoral states.

9. The stronger commitment to Africa since 2014 is evident in the outcomes and implementation of the IAFS-3 targets. This is facilitated on the ground by a larger diplomatic presence, notably 18 new embassies in Africa. Our support for Africa in the current situation is also highlighted by our support for the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative.

10. India has always maintained that the progress of the world is contingent on the development of the Global South. Nowhere is that more evident than in Africa. And that is why we attach the utmost priority to the India-Africa partnership. I thank CII and EXIM Bank as collaborators in this important endeavour and wish this conclave all success.

Thank you very much for your attention