Africa, India cement romance


Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has reaffirmed the strategic importance of India’s relationship with Africa, however, he underscored the need for burgeoning trade relations to be propelled to the next level.

“We need to ensure that capacity building is focused on further expansion and leads to increases in trade between and amongst the African countries and India, as well as in investment in infrastructure development,” Motlanthe told the second Africa-India summit held in Addis Ababa on Wednesday. He also recommended a sense of urgency, saying “I would like to mention that there is room for improvement in our time management as leaders of Africa. Time is of the essence and if we are to address these backlogs, that ought to manifest itself in whatever forum in which we find ourselves.
“I hope that in future we will have a bit more sense of urgency in our approach and tackle our developmental challenges facing our continent.”

Motlanthe commended the commitment of US$18 billion worth of projects to Africa by the Indian businesses at the Business Forum Conclave held early this year, as well as the credit line India offered to Africa during the first Summit in 2008 — commitments made in a harsh economic environment in the aftermath of the recession, the state BuaNews reports.
“We, as African countries, need to ensure that we fully utilise such opportunities to the benefit of our people, especially since the shortage of finance experienced by Africa in this current economic situation depresses investment, deters growth and undermines the ability of our countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals,” said Motlanthe.

Currently, the World Bank estimates that Africa needs investment of US$93 billion per year to address the infrastructure gap. While the deputy president acknowledged gains made in the agriculture, manufacturing and other sectors of the economy, he said there was still a need to explore ways of making more out of the partnership in order to stimulate employment creation in the various countries.

Motlanthe proposed that there should be a follow-up mechanism that will ensure monitoring and evaluation of progress made. “With strict timeframes, this will assist Member States to remain focused and effectively implement the programmes and projects sponsored by this Forum,” said Motlanthe. With Africa still trying to break through India’s highly regulated economic market and one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Motlanthe was hopeful that gains would be made through partnerships like the Africa-India Forum, IBSA and BRICS.

Working in concert with India, he was also confident that Africa can push for the conclusion of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Round of negotiations, which will ultimately see a more equitable global trade system, BuaNews said.

BuaNews added that in the fields of economic cooperation, the two sides underlined the importance of supporting stable, long-term capital flows to developing countries to stimulate investment. They envisaged a widening of the partnership to areas such as civil society and governance, science and technology, social development, health, culture, tourism, sports, infrastructure and media and communications, in order to achieve inclusive growth, social-economic development and self-reliance.

According to the Addis Ababa Declaration, India and Africa also committed to deal with a number of political issues, including piracy off the coast of Somalia, terrorism and UN reform. Specifically, the summit emphasised the need for countries to exert utmost effort on UN Security Council reform during the current session of the UN General Assembly, BuaNews said.
“The two sides underscored the need for urgent and comprehensive reforms, saying they must reflect contemporary realities. India supports Africa’s claims for permanent membership of Security Council. On its part, Africa backs India’s claim to a permanent seat with full rights in an expanded Security Council.
“Amid growing regional and international concerns about the conflict in Libya, where NATO has intensified its bombing campaign in recent days, India joined Africa in calling for an immediate ceasefire and for a negotiated end to the violence there,” BuaNews said.
“The declaration took note of the UN resolutions under which NATO is using military force against Libya and stressed that efforts to implement them should be within the spirit and letter of those resolutions. They urged parties in the conflict to strive for a political solution through peaceful means and dialogue.
“India and the 15 African governments including — South Africa and Libya, which took part in the summit — also expressed their support for the African Union High-Level Ad Hoc Committee initiative and the AU roadmap for the peaceful and consensual resolution of the conflict.
“Both sides called on all countries to ensure that acts of cross-border terrorism do not occur and that their territories are not made a base for terrorists. They unequivocally condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” BuaNews said. An act of terrorism anywhere is a threat to the entire international community, they said.
“We recognise the need to further strengthen international cooperation to combat global terrorism and for compliance of all member states with all international terrorism conventions and related protocols and United Nations Security Council’s resolution on counter-terrorism,” the declaration said. Taking note of the African position on the condemnation of the payments of ransom to terror groups, the leaders called for the urgent need to address the issue.