BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka
INDIA has been steadfast in its support for Africaâ€™s development.
Indiaâ€™s partnership with Africa is historical. It dates back several centuries.
Itâ€™s seafarers and businessmen started interactions with Africa long before the colonial period. Africa holds a special place in every Indianâ€™s thought as the land of awakening for Mahatma Gandhi.
India has stood by Africaâ€™s side during its struggles for independence including the anti-apartheid struggle.
Indeed, Indiaâ€™s was the strongest voice against colonialism and apartheid at the
United Nations (UN) and other multilateral fora. India is among the largest troop contributors toÂ the UN Peace Keeping Force in Africa.
Indiaâ€™s engagement with Africa has come a long way. Today India enjoys close and friendly relations with all countries in Africa, pan-African organisations like the African Union, the African Development Bank and the Regional Economic Communities.
Rajesh Ranjan, Indiaâ€™s Ministry of External Affairs director for East and Southern Africa, says India has emerged as one of Africaâ€™s largest trading partners.
Dr Ranjan says bilateral trade has grown in leaps and bounds – from US$5 billion just a decade ago to around US$70 billion.
â€œIndian investments in Africa have grown steadily. Today Indiaâ€™s investment in Africa is to the tune of US$32 billion. India â€“ Africa relations are a partnership in the truest sense of the term,â€ he says.
Dr Ranjan says the India â€“Africa relations are not a donor â€“ recipient or a patron â€“ client model.
â€œI t is a partnership of equal partners based on trust, mutual respect and assistance. It works towards common goals and mutual benefits. This has been firmly established by close relations between India and Africa in the recent past,â€ he says.
India and Africa have a historic relationship that has grown into a sustainable partnership. This historic relationship has been revitalised keeping in view functional co-operation in the 21st century.
THE INDIA â€“ AFRICA FORUM SUMMIT
A major step in this direction was setting up of the mechanism of India â€“ Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) with the motto of â€™Two billion dreams: Dynamic partnership, shared vision.â€™
The first IAFS was held in New Delhi, India, in 2008 and IAFS II was organised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2011.
Dr Ranjan says the two summits held so far have helped design the structure for a comprehensive India â€“ Africa partnership in the 21st century that strengthens co-operation in political relations, economic development, capacity building, technology transfer, defence and security, health are, education and cultural relations.
â€œIt is important to note the development of a process where at each step of implementing the vision of the Forum Summits the African partners are closely involved in decision making, executing and monitoring the developments.
â€œIndiaâ€™s expertise in the field of Information and Communications Technology has helped us establish the pan-African e-Network, which was launched in 2009,â€ Dr Ranjan says.
He says through state-of-the-art fibre optic connectivity, the network has created significant linkages for tele-education, tele-medicine and VVIP connectivity.
The third India â€“ Africa Forum Summit (IAFS III), to which President Lungu
has been invited, is being planned to be held from October 26 to 30, 2015 in New Delhi, India.
BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka