Africa Day: Here’s why the second largest continent is strategically important for India

According to reports in the vision statement of IMS 2050, the main aim is to develop a blue economy, and to foster increased wealth creation from the oceans and seas in Africa.

Since the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is of critical importance to all the countries in the region, a robust information sharing mechanism has been set up by India to monitor the activities in the IOR. (File image)
Since the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is of critical importance to all the countries in the region, a robust information sharing mechanism has been set up by India to monitor the activities in the IOR. (File image)

Each year, May 25 is known as Africa Day, meant to celebrate the successes of the Organisation of African Unity, which is better known as African Union (AU). It was on this date and month that Africa created history when it founded the OAU in 1963. It was for fighting against apartheid, colonialism and also the progress that the continent made despite the challenges it faced.

Why is Africa important for India?

India has long-standing political ties with the continent and a huge population of Diaspora in the continent.  According to experts,  during the Cold War, under a non-aligned movement, many African countries had joined India to fight against hegemonic powers.

Over the years, the two sides have been increasing their engagements especially between the navies and towards this there have been series of drills at sea between the regional navies as well as coast guards.

India and the Island states of the African continent have  set up an inclusive regional maritime security infrastructure located strategically and there are interactions at operational level regularly.

Since the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is of critical importance to all the countries in the region, a robust information sharing mechanism has been set up by India to monitor the activities in the IOR.

Also,  there are eight members in the Indian- led initiative Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA),  headquartered in Mauritius. Island states like Madagascar and Comoros too are part of IORA.

There is Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050 of the African Union

According to reports in the vision statement of IMS 2050, the main aim is to develop a blue economy, and to foster increased wealth creation from the oceans and seas in Africa.

India & Sudan

Relations between India and Sudan date back to ancient times. “Evidence indicates that there were contacts and possibly trade almost 5,000 years ago between Nilotic and Indus Valley Civilizations through Mesopotamia,” says India’s ambassador to Sudan, BS Mubarak.

Talking to Financial Express on the eve of Africa day, Ambassador Mubarak talks a bit about the relationship between the two countries. He says, “The first Sudanese Parliamentary elections in 1953 were conducted by Shri Sukumar Sen, the then India’s Chief Election Commissioner (the Sudanese Election Commission, formed in 1957, drew heavily on Indian elections norms and laws).”

Are there any opportunities for Indian businesses?

Yes, he says. According to him, “Sudan offers a lot of potential and opportunities for India. Sudan is the third largest country in Africa and has a population of around 45 million. Sudan is uniquely positioned and is both African and Arab. It has an 850 KM coastline along the Red Sea and close to Horn of Africa.”

“The scope to promote commercial relations with Sudan is enormous. India’s exports to Sudan are over 1 billion USD. Commercial linkages between the two countries are complementary in nature. Sudanese business establishments, especially in the areas of engineering, mining, steel production, sugar industry, food processing and pharmaceuticals are deeply linked to India and are dependent on Indian technology, machineries and components,” he shares.

India as prefered destination for education

The Indian envoy says “An estimated 100,000 Sudanese have completed their higher education in India. As on date close to 10,000 Sudanese students are pursuing higher education in India. Every year we issue close to 1500 visas for Sudanese travelling to India for higher education. Also India is the number one destination for medical tourism for Sudanese nationals. Every year close to 7000 visas for medical tourism are issued for Sudanese nationals.”

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