India and Africa share a Deep Bond of Friendship, Forged by History, Common Challenges and a shared journey on the Path of Progress – Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
As Nigeria and India are poised to celebrate 60 years of establishing diplomatic relations in 1958, it is time to reflect on how bilateral relations between the two countries have grown over the last six decades. There is much to be satisfied over this period but a lot more remains to be done as the potential has barely been touched.
Africa and India have had historical linkages. The centuries-old relationship between India and the countries in African has always been warm and dynamic.
The current re-engagement between Africa and India is further intensifying in diversified security, political, diplomatic, cultural, and economic fields. Common challenges like food security, energy, climate change, peacekeeping and international security from global terrorism and organised crime, and piracy are the issues that have brought them closer.
The India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) initiated in 2008 has turned out to be a defining moment in charting out a well-thought-out strategy on how to steer this fast developing relationship into something concrete and enduring, with a well-defined roadmap at par with the rising aspirations and expectations of the peoples of the either continents.
Framework for Strategic Cooperation was agreed upon at the third Summit in New Delhi in October 2015.
India has helped Africa through $7.4 billion in concessional credit and $1.2 billion in grant since 2008; training of 25,000 young Africans in India in the past three years; the process of creating 100 capacity building Institutions; and developing infrastructure, public transport, clean energy, irrigation, agriculture, and manufacturing across Africa.
Nigeria is the most widely recognised global player on the African landmark. It is the biggest economy on the continent, with global aspirations in terms of a new world order and is considered by India as an important partner for development.
India is now the largest trading partner of Nigeria globally and Nigeria is the largest trading partner of India in Africa. The bilateral trade last year (2017-18) touched $12 billion, according to national statistics. Most of this trade is reliant on oil import from Nigeria, which stands at 80 percent of imports, compared to 20 percent of Indian exports to Nigeria. These exports range from pharmaceuticals, engineering equipment, automobiles to products in the power sector.
Technology will be a strong foundation of this partnership. Greater cooperation is envisaged in the future along diverse verticals: Pan Africa e-Network, reduction in the digital divide within Africa and between Africa and rest of the world, sustainable development of the blue economy, clean energy, climate, health care, and resilient agriculture.
At the second India Africa Forum Summit in Addis Ababa, Indian Prime Minister had emphasised, “The India-Africa partnership rests on three pillars: capacity building, skill transfer, and trade and infrastructure development”, highlighting the new dynamics of India-Nigeria ties.
India commitment to transferring skills and knowledge to the African youth would be evident from the fact that the technical training slots under the Indian Technical Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme have been increased manifold; over 1000 officials and 15,000 African students receive training in India annually. Pan African e-Network project gave Africa a great opportunity to bridge the digital divide and to further telemedicine and distance learning programmes linked to Indian Universities.
The Indian Government provides 3.5 million dollars as capacity building assistance to train Nigerian government officials under the ITEC programme.
At this year’s ITEC Day in Abuja, Indian High Commissioner mentioned that the slots under the programme would cover 310 civilians and 120 defence training programmes in 2017-2018. An additional 1.2 million dollars were made available for 55 more training programmes offered in 2017 and 10 rural women referred to as `solar mamas’ will be trained in fabrication, repair, and maintenance of solar lanterns and household lightening systems.
Twenty Nigerian diplomats are currently undergoing a Special Training Programme at the Foreign Training Institute in India, India is providing for specialised training of Nigerian diplomats.
It is obvious that Nigeria and India have several factors in common such as large population, democratic political system, and diverse societies and both countries also share common challenges such as terrorism, insurgency and strive for inclusive socio-economic development. Although economic and political ties between the two countries have expanded in the last decade, the scope for enhancement of the relationship always remains.