New Delhi. 20 October, 2014. Tracing the future trajectory of India Africa cooperation, Secretary (M&ER) Ministry of  External Affairs, Government of India, Ms Sujata Mehta,  identified ‘technical cooperation and capacity building’ as the two most economical and prudent areas where India and Africa can strengthen bilateral ties and network.

Ms Mehta, who was speaking at the Conference on ‘India-Africa Partnership: Future Directions’, jointly organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Brookings India, on October 20, 2015 added that “our partnership with African countries is more mediated through a broad range of partners on both the sides.”

The conference was organised as a prelude to the Third India-Africa Forum Summit (AIFS), scheduled to be held in New Delhi from October 26-29, 2015; an opportune moment to map the future trajectory of India-Africa relationship.

Speaking in the inaugural session, Ms Mehta stated that the Summit provides a useful platform for engagement between the two regions at various levels, encouraging structured cooperation between India and Africa.  Both India and Africa, with old civilisational ties, should look at deeper political and economic engagement at the upcoming India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) later this month to identify key areas of cooperation, she concluded.

Also speaking on the occasion was Ambassador of Federal Democratic Republic Ethiopia to India and Dean of African Diplomatic Corps, HE Dr Genet Zewidewho stressed upon the need for multi-dimensional cooperation and people to people connect between India and the African countries.

Noting that “human resource development is key to all dimensions of India-Africa co-operation”, Dr Genet Zewide said that while India as a nation is widely recognised even in rural Africa, the awareness about Africa in India is still inadequate, hence the need for more proactive engagements of people from both sides on diverse platforms. Dr Zewide also called for a proactive engagement of private business houses from both regions.

Describing India as a close ally and friend, Dr Zewide insisted that India could play a crucial role in helping Africa realise the goals set by the ‘Development Agenda 2030’.

Earlier, chairing the session Director General, IDSA, Shri Jayant Prasad identified food security, energy, information and communications technology and institution building as some of the focal areas of future interactions between India and Africa.

Three books were also launched during the conference, which included IDSA publication ‘India and Africa: Common Security Challenges for the Next Decade’, edited by Ms Ruchita Beri; RIS publication ‘India-Africa Partnership Towards Sustainable Development and Brookings India publication ‘India and Africa: Forging a Strategic Partnership’.

Organised as a curtain raiser to the 3rd IAFS, the conference offered an opportunity to identify areas of future cooperation between India and Africa.

The First India-Africa Forum Summit, held in New Delhi in 2008, marked the beginning of a robust and contemporary partnership. The second Summit, held in Addis Ababa in May 2011, emphasised the renewed focus of India to strengthen and enhance its partnership with countries in the African continent. It brought out two important documents, the Addis Ababa Declaration and the Africa-India Framework for Enhanced Cooperation. Both agreements offer direction to further Indo-African relations in the coming years, and provide a framework for the establishment of a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership encompassing diverse fields. The forthcoming Third India Africa Forum Summit, 26-29 October 2015, at New Delhi, provides an opportune moment take this relationship forward.