India and SudanPotential Areas of Cooperation

By Vidhan Pathak


India and SudanPotential Areas of Cooperation

Introduction India has developed close ties with Sudan over the years. It enjoys a special place in the heart of every Sudanese, reinforced by its responsiveness to Sudan’s developmental needs. Sudan has not forgotten India’s contribution to its independence movement and to the presence of Indian experts and teachers in the early years of freedom. The leaders of Sudan’s independence movement were inspired by the Indian experience.

The Graduates Congress established in 1938, modelled itself on the Indian National Congress. The Sudanese cherish the support extended by the Indian Government on various occasions. Sudan’s first parliamentary elections in 1953 were conducted by Sukumar Sen, Chief Election Commissioner of India. At Bandung first Afro-Asian Relations Conference in April 1955, the delegation from Sudan did not have a flag to mark its place. Taking out his handkerchief, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote Sudan on it and put it on a chair, thus reserving a place for Sudan in the international community. Further, Indian engineers played a major role in setting up the country’s sugar industry and railways. Later, in 1993 and 1994 India voted against UN resolutions critical of Sudan and opposed moves in 1994 to expel Sudan from the IMF though it was formally suspended from IMF in 1995. Further, the presence of over 2,500 Indian peacekeeping troops as part of the multi-national United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) between 2005-2011, also inspires a lot of goodwill between India and Sudan. The Indian government supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sudan amidst debate on intervention in the context of Darfur (Large 2008). New Delhi articulated its position that the African Union (AU) is an apt body through which it will engage itself in the process of resolving conflict in Sudan. Thus, India established itself as a significant player in Sudan, a country that subsequently became one of India’s top investment destinations in Africa. Indian investments and production cooperation found a large place in Sudan.

India’s progress in bilateral relations with Sudan displays a considerable degree of understanding of India’s energy needs and diplomacy. The Indian economy is growing at the brisk pace. The growth of the economy automatically leads to growth in energy consumption. Maintaining a high rate of economic growth brings about the increase in Indian energy needs. India has a challenge at hand to ensure a strategic oil stock to sustain its growing economy. India has diversified its procedure of acquiring oil resources in terms of going for ‘equity oil’. India took a policy decision to participate in the production process in the overseas oil fields as part of its strategy to respond to the dramatic rise of its oil import bill and the stagnation of its oil production. Sudan appeared to be one of the conducive and appropriate alternatives. The synergy between hydrocarbon deficit India and energy surplus Sudan provided an obvious case for partnership. Thus, energy security issues brought Sudan into India’s strategic map. It has been included in India’s enlarged ‘Focus Africa’ programme (since April 2003), to expand economic interactions. The visit by Indian President A P J Abdul Kalam to Sudan in October 2003 also injected momentum into the bilateral relations.

Development cooperation Development cooperation, with special focus on capacity building, remains the cornerstone of India-Africa engagement under the framework of South-South cooperation. India has pursued various training and skill development schemes under ITEC and SCAAP. In recent years, India has increased its development policy engagement with African countries through the extension of lines of credits, technical cooperation and capacity building, which has been for a long time the brand image of Indian diplomacy in Africa. As per the decisions taken during IAFS- III held in New Delhi in October 2015, the number of ITEC slots for Sudan has increased to 200 from the year 2016-17. A number of slots have been offered under IAFS-III, which includes specialized training courses in Agriculture, Irrigation, Water resources, Renewable energy, Information Technology etc.

India’s engagement with Sudan has been underpinned by economic motivation and political mutuality. The cooperation between both countries increased manifold after Sudan was constrained by the West. In exchange for its oil, Sudan obtained help from India in infrastructure, agriculture, electricity and telecommunications. The bilateral trade between both countries is booming and it increased from 327.27 Million USD in 2005- 06 to almost 1663. 7 Million USD in 2018-19. As per Central Bank of Sudan’s statistics (up to June 2019), India is the third largest exporter to Sudan after China and Saudi Arabia. It primarily exports food stuffs, petroleum products, manufactured goods, machinery and equipment, chemicals including pharmaceuticals and textiles to Sudan. Sudan mainly exports sesame seed, gum Arabic, cotton, hides and skins and groundnuts to India. In the last decade, India’s investments have been mainly in the energy sector. Indian public sector undertakings, OVL has invested over 2.3 billion in undivided Sudan. Currently, it has shared in productive Block 1, 2 & 4 in Sudan. As per Ministry of Industry figures, the total Indian investment in Sudan in various sectors is around US$450 million (up to 2015). Indian pharmaceutical companies are very active in Sudan as a source of formulations and active pharmaceutical ingredients. The Pharmaceutical industry of Sudan especially manufacturers have close relations with Indian Pharmaceutical machinery manufacturers who have put up a number of Pharmaceutical manufacturing units in Sudan. Major Indian brands in Pharma have representations in Sudan and so do major automotive companies like Tata, Mahindra, and Bajaj.

In November 2006, Sudan signed the Pan-African E-Network Agreement with India for the establishment of a satellite and fibre-optic network to provide effective communication and connectivity among the 53 members of the African Union. President Omer Al-Bashir inaugurated Sudan’s first solar photo-voltaic module manufacturing plant built with Indian technology and equipment at the Energy Research Institute in Khartoum. Kosti Thermal Power Plant built by BHEL with a capacity of 500 MW is the largest thermal power plant in Sudan. The power plant was commissioned and dedicated to the nation by President Bashir in February 2016. Significantly, this is BHEL’s largest oil-fired thermal power plant in the overseas market and also its first crude-oil fired thermal power plant in Africa.

Potential Areas of Cooperation India with its experience of over seventy years of industrial growth attained expertise in certain important sectors and has a comparative advantage for development cooperation with African countries. These sectors are agriculture, infrastructure like communication, irrigation, housing, health and small and medium scale industries. Thus, a number of areas could be identified for development cooperation between India and Sudan.

Energy Cooperation In 2003, India’s OVL had invested $750 million to acquire 25 per cent equity held by the Talisman group in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). GNPOC is a consortium that also includes the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Malaysia’s Petronas and Sudan’s Sudapet. It had also invested in other energy assets in block 5A and 5B. Most of these assets are now located in South Sudan. However, Sudan still has an important role to play in India’s energy security scenario. It has potential to cooperate with India in the energy sector based on a larger shared perspective and could provide an opportunity to India to evolve broad-based sustainable cooperation based on emerging dynamics of the global energy security and multiplicity of shared interests.

Agricultural Cooperation The investment made in agriculture provides the maximum possible return. It can also provide lots of employment opportunities. Agriculture is not confined just to the production of agricultural products but includes the supply of fertilizers, irrigation, storage, communication etc. India is in a position to offer appropriate technology and training to the agriculturists in Sudan. India has got the necessary expertise on seed farm, soil testing and irrigation. India can easily supply farm implements, pesticides and other agricultural inputs. A number ofagro-based processing industries such as sugar, cashew processing and vegetable oil industry could also be considered.

Cooperation in the Health Sector Healthcare is an important sector for co-operation between the two countries and there is potential for cooperation between both, Government to Government and the business fraternity. India continues to offer capacity building programmes under ITEC and customized programme under IAFS to Sudanese health professionals and caregivers. In pursuance of the commitments made under IAFS-III, mid-career specialized training courses are conducted at regular intervals at renowned hospitals in India like Apollo Hospitals, Fortis and Artemis Hospital. India has become the major destination for Sudanese patients to avail medical treatment in India. Embassy of India, Khartoum has issued more than 4000 Medical visas in 2018 and the trend is on the upswing.

Educational Cooperation Around 3 to 4 thousand Sudanese student’s travel to India annually for higher studies. The number of student visa issued by the Indian mission is increasing every year and it issued nearly 1674 student visas in 2018. More than 50,000 Sudanese are graduates of Indian universities, some of whom are holding high positions in government and business. Most of Sudanese students after studying in India have carved a niche for themselves in diplomacy, academia, governance and entrepreneurship.

Rural and Small-Scale Industries The rural and small-scale industries sector is another area of Indian specialization. This sector has a vital role in building up rural-urban linkages as also to help within expensive inward looking low-cost labour-intensive development process. India has used its small and medium enterprises as an engine for growth in the high technology sector. India could assist Sudan in establishing small-scale industries in the field of agro-processing like sugar cane, forestry products, consumer durables and the light electrical and electronics industry. India can also set up industries in other sectors such as oil refining, food processing and preservation, mineral processing etc.

Information Technology India has an internationally recognized and growing expertise in the Information Technology sector. The IT is one major specific sector in which there is a huge scope for expansion in terms of co-operation between the India and Sudan. India has offered technical trainings to Sudan under the ITEC which involves technical training, consultancy services and project assistance.

Transport and Communication Sudan is also interested in improving its basic infrastructure in the transport sector and would welcome any help rendered in this area. India with her experience of not only developing her own infrastructure but also of completing a number of turnkey jobs in these areas in the middle-east can do a lot to help it. Thus, the other areas such as telecommunications, computers, software and peripherals, health care services and equipments, pharmaceuticals, security and safety equipments, water treatment equipment, industrial chemicals and packaging equipment etc. also offer best collaboration prospects.

References Government of India. 2019. “India-Sudan Relations.” Ministry of External Affairs, October 2017. Indo-Asian News Service. 2007. “Squeezed by West, Sudan woos India.” September 09. http://news.webindia123.com/news/ar_showdetails.asp?id=709090085&cat=&n_date =20070909. Large, Daniel. 2008. “Sudan’s foreign relations with Asia: China and the politics of ‘looking east.” ISS Paper-158, Last modified October 31, 2009. http://www.iss.co.za/dynamic/ administration/file_manager/file_links/PAPER158.PDF. Malhotra, Jyoti. 2005. “India, China: Comrades in oil.” Asia Times, August 19. The Indian Analyst. 2007. “India-Sudan Relations.” Last modified May 05. http://www.whatisindia.com/issues/sudanrel/indo-sudanrel_info.html. Embassy of India, India-Sudan Bilateral Relations, Khartoum, Sudan, Available at www.eoikhartoum.gov.in/India-Sudan-Bilateral-Brief.php. Retrieved on 7/10/2019

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