Over 40 African leaders, including Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as professionals, entrepreneurs and industrialists from Africa and India recently converged on New Delhi for the Third Summit of India-Africa Forum.
The four-day summit, which was held between Oct. 26 and Oct. 30, was convened to deliberate on how best to tackle Africa’s development challenges, including terrorism, poverty and dwindling economic fortunes.
Foreign affairs analysts describe the summit as the single largest transnational event hosted by the Indian government since the 1983 Non-Aligned Summit.
Available records show that the trade volume between India and Africa is in excess of 70 billion dollars a year.
On global diplomacy, India and Africa have also been agitating for permanent seats in the United Nations (UN) Security Council by means of a pragmatic reform of the UN system.
Observers say that the summit has proved to be a veritable tool for advancing Indo-African relations.
In his welcome speech at the summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Indian government would provide 10 billion dollars concessional credit to Africa within the next five years.
He said that this was in addition to a 600-million-dollar grant given to Africa, adding that the gesture was distinct from on-going credit programmes on the continent.
Modi said that the grant would include “an India-Africa Development Fund of 100 million dollars and an India-Africa Health Fund of 10 million dollars”.
According to him, the assistance will also include 50,000 scholarships domiciled in India over the next five years to support to strengthen skills enhancement, training and learning efforts of institutions in the 54 African countries.
He also announced that India would increase its cooperation with Africa in the area of maritime security so as to counter “terrorism and extremism’’.
Besides, Modi said that India would support the African Union (AU) by training African peacekeepers in India and Africa.
“We wish to deepen our cooperation in maritime security and hydrography, in countering terrorism and extremism.
“We must have a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism; we must also have a stronger voice in decisions on UN peacekeeping missions,” he said.
Referring to India and Africa as “the two bright spots of hope and opportunities in the global economy”, Modi underscored the need for India and Africa to speak with one voice on UN reforms.
Addressing the summit, Buhari stressed that Nigeria and other African countries must work harder to achieve greater political stability and security before they could enjoy the full benefits of international partnership arrangements such as the India-Africa Forum.
He, however, said that as part of designed efforts to attract massive investments to the continent, African countries must overcome the challenges of unemployment and inability to create wealth.
Buhari also stressed that all African countries must establish policy environments which guaranteed the sanctity of contracts on the basis of the rule of law.
Speaking on Nigeria, the president said that since the inception of his administration on May 29 this year, it had been working assiduously to establish these preconditions so as to provoke the country’s socio-economic growth and re-focus its governance on the real needs of the citizens.
“As a government, we have demonstrated our strong determination to change the direction and content of governance, including the management of our resources through accountability, transparency and result-orientation in governance.
“We are confident that India, as a tested friend and dependable partner of Nigeria, will always stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us in efforts to discharge the mandate entrusted to us by our people,” he said.
Buhari, nonetheless, expressed the hope that the India-Africa Forum would deepen, in practical terms, the South-South Cooperation which the countries of the South had desired for a long time.
“The current international economic and political environment is far from being favourable, particularly for developing countries. Fresh political conflicts have erupted, accentuated by terrorism and extremism in the most awful forms.
“Trans-border crimes, illegal arms trade, irregular migration and cybercrimes have all added to the new global threats that demand our collective action.
“Furthermore, the world is facing the challenge of climate change, in which Africa remains badly affected with severe threats to food security and social stability.
“From the West to the East, the North to the South; virtually every country in our respective regions is faced with unacceptable levels of poverty, unemployment and youth bulge.
“India and Africa must develop a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation and partnership to confront these emerging threats. We must recognise that, in this globalised age, we all live interconnected lives in a fragile planet.
“We must, therefore, work together to uplift the lives of our people in a manner that preserves the sustainability of our living environment.
“These challenges call for a renewed sense of urgency among African countries for economic development. It is an open secret that Africa possesses all the prerequisites to become a major growth region of the world.
“There is, therefore, the need for India and Africa to strive together to build a virile framework for partnership and cooperation in order to address common challenges in key areas including health, education, interconnectivity, power and employment generation.
“We should also work together for the strengthening of institutions of governance and democracy,’’ he added.
Buhari said that even though African countries had a number of partnership arrangements with other countries of the world, the India-Africa Forum was unique “as it is not only a partnership between friends but also between countries and peoples who have had similar historical experiences of colonial rule”.
He, however, appealed to leaders of countries of the world to address problems like stock market crash, political conflicts and terrorism that were threatening global peace.
Buhari also cautioned developed nations against applying double standards in their approach to globalisation which, he said, should allow for the free movement of goods and services without any hindrance.
“As the global economy appeared set to recover from the economic crisis of the recent past, the positive trend is now threatened by the current stock market collapse in some parts of the world and commodity crisis in others.
“Fresh political conflicts have erupted, accentuated by terrorism and extremism in the most awful forms. Trans-border crimes, illegal arms trade, irregular migration and cybercrimes have all added to the new global threats that demand our collective action.
“Amidst all these challenges, we now have double standards in defining globalisation. We must collectively insist that globalisation, as defined by the international community, should mean free movement of goods, services and people without any hindrance or exception.
“Furthermore, the world is facing the challenge of climate change in which Africa remains badly affected with severe threats to food security and social stability.”
Besides, Buhari proposed the reformation of global institutions of governance, saying: “The global institutions of governance are outmoded and under extreme stress, calling for new approaches that reflect changing realities and shift of economic and political power.”
Addressing the Nigerian community in India before the commencement of the summit, Buhari reaffirmed the commitment of his administration to fighting corruption and recovering funds stolen from Nigeria.
He pledged to plug all the loopholes in public sector accounting and deploy the available resources for the good of all Nigerians.
He said that the anti-corruption crusade would be on for many years, adding that his administration had a good knowledge of the effects of the diversion of public funds into private pockets.
“In the meantime, we will continue to prosecute those who have been indicted for corrupt practices and ensure that stolen funds are recovered, to serve as deterrent to others who nurse the ambition of seeking public office solely for illegal personal gains,” he said.
Buhari promised to address infrastructure challenges facing Nigeria and end insurgency in the north-eastern part of the country by the end of the year, adding that he was fully aware of the expectations of Nigerians who elected him into power.
“We are seeking to create jobs through agriculture, mining, industrial value-addition and promotion of small scale enterprises.
“We are also taking steps to address criminality across the country.
“We are tackling the menace of terrorism posed by Boko Haram head-on and I am pleased to note that although sporadic attacks on soft targets have not stopped, the overall capacity of Boko Haram to hold territory and determine the course of the conflict has been severely degraded,” he said.
Adamu is of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, and writes from Abuja

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