The World is One Family: India’s Developmental partnership with Africa

14 August 2020
File photo: President Ramaphosa visited India as Chief Guest at the 70th Republic Day celebrations on 26 January 2019 in New Delhi

In the 21st century, India and Africa both face the challenges of meeting the goal of Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDG) 2030. Considering the similarities in our socio-economic circumstances, we share similar developmental priorities with focus on developing social and physical infrastructure; building human capacity and resources; creating conditions for inclusive growth that will reduce inequality in our societies.

India’s developmental partnership with Africa has been guided by developmental priorities of host countries. Under developmental partnership, focus is on building local potential and  improving on local opportunities to its people. India’s developmental partnership does not impose any conditionality and is demand driven.

One of the mechanisms of project financing adopted under India’s developmental partnership in Africa is Lines of Credits (LoCs) for projects aligned with the national development priorities of the recipient countries. The projects under the LoCs range from critical infrastructure sectors such as transport connectivity; power generation and distribution; agriculture and irrigation; manufacturing industries; healthcare; education and capacity building. Some of these iconic projects completed in Africa include the Parliament Building of Gambia, the Presidential Palace in Ghana, the Kosti Power project in Sudan which provides 1/3rd of the country’s power, the Nyaborongo Power Project in Rwanda which provides 1/4th of the country’s power, the Upper Ruvu Water Treatment Plant in Tanzania which provides clean drinking water to more than 2 million people in the Dar es Salaam area. India has assisted in developing new industries in a number of countries by establishing the first Cement Plant of Djibouti, the first Milk Processing Plant of Mauritania and the first Sugar Factory of Ghana.

Capacity building assistance is another developmental partnership in which India closely works with its partner countries through civilian and military training programmes in India, training on-site abroad, deputation of Indian experts, establishment of centres of excellence in IT and vocational training centers. The soft launch of the “Gandhi-Mandela Centre of Specialization for Artisan Skills” in South Africa took place in October 2018 in the presence of then Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Naledi Pandor. Under this partnership, India offered technical expertise, training material, machines and equipment as well as interactive ICT equipment for video conferencing in a multi-skills format comprising of four skills as identified by South Africa. We look forward to other collaborations in the future in both India and South Africa including under the BRICS mechanism.

During the India-Africa Forum Summit (2015), India announced that it would grant 50,000 annual scholarships for African students to avail of the high quality educational facilities in India. As part of the scholarship programmes, ITEC scholarships are mainly provided for short term training courses and ICCR for long term professional courses. The cost of expenditure of travel, accommodation in India for the selected scholarship candidates are borne by government of India. For the academic year 2019-20, 120 ITEC scholarship slots and 70 ICCR scholarships were allotted for South Africa and Lesotho.

There has been a positive feedback from the participants who went to India for studying under such scholarships. During the ITEC day celebrations in October 2019 in Pretoria, the ITEC alumni shared their Indian experiences of attending courses on subjects such as Skill Development and Employment Generation, Municipal Solid Waste Management, Science Technology and Innovation Policy, Women and Enterprise Development Program. In line with changing reality, a number of scholarship courses are now being offered through online platforms.

Africa is India’s second largest export region for pharmaceuticals with South Africa being the top export destination in Africa with US$ 610.79 million. In the current COVID crisis, India is emerging as “Pharmacy of the world” and has extended COVID-related medical assistance including testing kits, protective gear and Hydorxychloroquine and other medicines to around 90 plus countries across the globe. In the telephone conversation on 17 April, President Ramaphosa thanked Prime Minister Modi for allowing import of medical supplies from India of 500,000 Hydroxychloroquine tablets and one-time exemption for export of two consignments of Paracetamol tablets to South Africa. Prime Minister Modi also pledged India’s support to South Africa’s efforts as AU chair in its handling of COVID pandemic in African continent.

India strongly believes that the development of a country does not happen in a silo. We have to grow together based on the ancient philosophy of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (The world is one family).

by Shruthi Purushotam
Second Secretary, High Commission of India