African “empathy” was an “asset” for Indian foreign policy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday, and pledged to partner in Africa’s resurgence by helping to usher in a “green revolution” that would go a long way in ensuring food security for all. He stressed the geographical proximity and common colonial heritage of India and African countries, and denied that New Delhi was in any “race or competition” with China or anyone else for its renewed focus on Africa.
“Shared cooperation between India and Africa is an idea whose time has come,” Singh said. African Union chairman Alpha Oumar Konare said: “India and Africa do not need any intermediaries. We don’t want anybody on our backs anymore.”
In the Delhi Declaration issued at the end of the first India-Africa Forum Summit, India and the 53-nation AU pledged to support each other’s candidature for a permanent place on the UN Security Council, and for comprehensive UN reform.
Tanzanian President (and now AU chair) Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete said: "We are now ready to take you on the citadel of power, the UN Security Council. We have reaffirmed our commitment to work to get to this place."
The tenor of deliberations between participants was businesslike, with emphasis on actual collaboration in sectors outlined in the Africa-India Framework for Cooperation document that was also adopted on Wednesday.
Economic cooperation focuses on capacity building in agriculture (through specific measures like combating agro-based diseases, cooperating in water resource management and irrigation practices and increasing capacity of small land holdings), trade, small and medium enterprises, resource mobilization, IT, communications (removing the digital divide and improving connectivity), health and infrastructure.
Politically, India and Africa will collaborate closely to re-establish peace and security through the AU's policy framework for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development.
They will jointly tackle the challenge of money laundering and terrorist financing and drug trafficking, and cooperate in capacity-building for disaster-management. An important aspect of political collaboration will be sharing expertise on the "conduct of elections in vast and complex terrains."