NEW DELHI: India's initiatives in Africa are designed to respond to the priorities of Africans and envisage co-capabilities as well as co-benefits, while promoting local ownership, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday.
He said that because of this approach a "unique level of trust" is visible in the engagement which is even more valuable as "we contemplate the challenges ahead".
Delivering the keynote address at the inaugural session of the 16th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India and Africa Project Partnership, the external affairs minister said India is open to expanding cooperation with Africa in maritime safety and the security sphere, given the increase in non-traditional threats faced by many African littoral states.
"As we seek to come out of the Covid pandemic, this partnership assumes an even greater salience," he said.
Noting that India's approach to development partnership with Africa is guided by the Kampala Principles enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018, Jaishankar said India's 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," he said.
The remarks assume significance as India has been traditionally a close partner of the African continent, but China has been ramping up its economic influence over the resource-rich continent over the last few years.
Jaishankar said that in a post-Covid scenario, there are four domains that should become the focus of India's collaborative activities with regard to Africa -- public health, digital delivery, skilling and capacity building, and green economy.
"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," he said at the conclave whose theme is "Harnessing the Africa-India Opportunity: Connect, Create and Collaborate".
On its part, India envisages health cooperation as reflecting our Global South solidarity, Jaishankar said.
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, he said.
Asserting that India has a long history in defence and security cooperation with Africa, Jaishankar said it is being updated to meet more contemporary challenges.
"Our involvement in HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) 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," he said.
Noting Covid-era has also seen a visible shift to greater digital dependence, he said 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," he pointed out.
"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," he said.
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, Jaishankar asserted.
He said India is also committed to supporting Africa's energy transition through rapid deployment of clean energy technologies.
Underlining that African nations have shown great interest in the International Solar Alliance, he said 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," he said.
Jaishankar said the stronger commitment to Africa since 2014 is evident in the outcomes and implementation of the India-Africa Forum Summit-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," he said.
Noting that India has always maintained that the progress of the world is contingent on the development of the Global South, he said nowhere is that more evident than in Africa.
"That is why we attach the utmost priority to the India-Africa partnership," he added.