Address by MoS Vellamvelli MURALEEDHARAN at the Diplomatic Club, Lome on theme “India-Africa Relations”

Your Excellency Robert Dussey , Foreign Minister of the Republic of Togo,
Excellencies Members of Diplomatie Corps.
Distinguished invited guests,

Namaskar,

I am deeply honoured by invitation of Hon’ble Foreign Minister to address this prestigious Diplomatie Club on the the me ‘lndia-Africa Relations’.

During my short visit to beautiful country of Togo, 1 had an opportunity to call on H.E. President of Republic of Togo and assure him of lndia’s commitment to further strengthen our bilateral relations with Togo. 1 had extensive discussions with Hon’ble Foreign Minister and we both reviewed the entire gamut of our bilateral relationship and explored new areas to enhance bilateral cooperation. 1 once again thank Hon’ble Minister for warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation. My presence in Togo is aise special since it is first Foreign Ministerial visit from lndia to Togo.

Togo is a land of immense beauty, blessed with abundant natural resources, rich heritage and friendly people. Free Port of Lome. the only deepest port in West Africa, has not only contributed to Togo’s trade with the rest of the world but is aise a lifeline for many land locked countries of the region.

Coming back to the theme, ‘lndia-Africa Relations’, in tact, according to experts Africa and lndian sub-continent were once connected and were part of ‘Gondwana’ land before the lndian sub-continent tectonic plate moved further and collided with Eurasian plate giving rise to mighty Himalayas. Our relations date back to centuries when lndian merchants used to set sail in wooden dhows taking advantage of monsoon winds to carry out trade with Africa particularly the littoral states of East Africa. These centuries old exchanges resulted in cross­mingling of our respective cultures and appreciation of our respective unique way of lite.

With the abolition of slavery in the 191h century, colonial powers found an indigenous way to continue it and large number of lndian nationals were taken to far away places as “indentured labour” including to Mauritius, countries of East and South Africa. They were brought in thousands to lay railway lines in Kenya and in South Africa. With them also came traders, small shopkeepers, protessionals, administrators, teachers and over the years, many of them settled in these countries and gave rise to vibrant lndian diaspora. ln the case of West Africa, primarily the initial settlers were the traders who were on look out for greener pastures. Over the years, the lndian community has made a significant contribution to the social, economic and political fabric of Africa.

lt was to look after the interests of some of these early settlers in South Africa that a young lean and fragile lndian barrister came to South Africa in 1893, spent 21 years there and returned to lndia as Mahatma. lt was in South Africa that he experimented with tools of ‘Satyagraha’ and ‘Civil Disobedience Movement’ and later on successfully used tools of ‘Ahimsa’ (Non-violence) and ‘Satyagraha’ to mobilize millions of ordinary lndian people

against the British Empire. He led the lndian freedom movement, however, even at the cusp of independence, his thoughts were with brothers and sisters of Africa and he had said that lndia’s independence will remain incomplete till our brothers and sisters in Africa continue to be chained in bandage.

This year is special as we celebrate worldwide 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. 1 am thankful to Government of the Republic of Togo for releasing a special commemorative postal stamp of Mahatma Gandhi this year. Mahatma Gandhi and his legacy has been one of the greatest links between lndia and Africa.

lndian freedom movement inspired many countries in Africa and many African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia imbibed these methods in their own liberation movements. lndia was also in the forefront of fight against inhuman practice of apartheid and was first country to move a resolution at United Nations in 1946 against it even before lndia’s own independence. lndia only established relations with South Africa in 1991, when apartheid was abolished. We also stood with people of former Rhodesia, Guinea Bissau, Angola and Namibia.
lndia took a leading role in convening first Asian-African Conference at Bandung, lndonesia and later with support of many African countries such as Egypt, Ghana, led to formation of Non-Aligned Movement.

Many African countries looked towards lndia to take leadership role at world stage to highlight the challenges faced by the developing countries and also tried to emulate lndia’s model of socio-economic development to bring prosperity to their citizens. lndia in a unique position has always acted as a bridge between developing and developed countries and has always endeavoured to advocate and protect their interest in in multilateral fora. lndia has always been an advocate of South-South cooperation and has willingly shared lndia’s expertise with other developing countries.

The institutionalization of lndia-Africa relations resulted from initiation of lndia-Africa Forum Summit in 2008 and three IAFS Summits have been held so far with the 4 th IAFS Summit scheduled to be held in 2020.

lndia-Africa relations have seen an upswing in last 5 years under the visionary and dynamic leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Modi. 1 will use this opportunity to highlight the 10 Guiding principles which Hon’ble Prime Minster enumerated during his address to the Ugandan Parliament on 25 July, 2018 and which will guide and shape our relationship with Africa. These principles are:

1. Africa will be at the top of our priorities. We will continue to intensify and deepen our engagement with Africa.

– Allow me to illustrate how this Principle has translated into action. ln departure tram the ‘Benjul Formula’ where in only leadership torm the Regional groupings along with AU past and Present Presidency used to be invited to the lndia Africa Forum Summits, lndia under Prime Minister Modi decided to extend invitations to all Heads of States to participate in the 3rd IAFS
held at New Delhi in October 2015 and we were honoured with the participation of all African countries with more than 40 countries represented at the level of Heads of States/Govern ments.

ln last 5 years, President/Vice PresidentJPrime Minister of lndia paid visits to 32 African countries. ln tact, Hon. President’s first foreign visit was to Ethiopia and Eriteria and after general elections this summer and formation of government again under Prime Minister Modi, Hon’ble President’s first visit was once again to Africa – Benin, Gambia and Guinea in West Africa. Even my first visit, after assuming the responsibility as Minister of State for External Affairs, was to Nigeria. 1 have corne to Togo from Cameroon and will be going to Abidjan. lndia also received a number of African Heads of States/Heads of Governments on bilateral visits apart from IAFS and ISA Founding Conference (over 30). This month, President of Zambia paid a State visit to lndia.

2. Our development partnership will be guided by your priorities. lt will be on terms that will be comfortable for you, that will liberate your potential and not constrain your future.

Our development partnership currently includes implementation of 180 Unes of Credit worth about USD 11 billion in over 40 African countries. At the 3rd lndia Africa Forum Summit, lndia committed a concessional Line of Credit of 10 billion U.S. dollars and 600 million dollars in grant assistance. lndian efforts have always been driven by priorities of African countries. For example, lndia has extended four Unes of Credit (LOCs) totaling US$ 144.35 million (through EBID and bilaterally) to Togo for various projects. The projects implemented/signed/approved are: (1) US$ 14.96 million Rural electrification project in 2011; (ii) US$ 13.10 million Farming and cultivation of rice, maize and sorghum in 2012; (iii) US$ 30 million rural electrification to caver 150 localities in 2016; (iv) US$ 52 million setting up of 161 KV power transmission line in 2016; (v) US$ 20 million equip health institutions project (through EBID); (vi) US$ 13 million upgrading of power generation and distribution capacity of CEET (through EBID). Under the aegis of ISA Founding Conference held in Delhi in 2018, lndia announced new Unes of Credit through EBID of US$ 40 million for electrification of 350 villages through deployment of photovoltaic systems and the request of the Togolese side to move this particular line of credit from EBID to bilateral route is being positively processed. Ali these projects have been priorities of the Togolese government and part of the Togolese National Development Plan. ln short, concessional lines offered by lndia have contributed in a big way towards asset creation in several African countries.

We are proud of our educational and technical ties with Africa and receive thousands of young bright African mincis at our educational institutes. They are our investment into future and pall bearers of traditions to rise to occupy top positions in their countries. Severa! current or former Presidents, Prime Ministers, Vice Presidents, Ministers in Africa have attended educational or training institutions in lndia. Thousands of public officiais, students, teachers, entrepreneurs, farmers, doctors have been trained or obtained their degrees in lndia under our capacity building programmes.

Our lndian Technical and Economie Cooperation Programme (ITEC) has been in place for 55 years now and trains 10,000 every year from over 160 countries. Most of these slots are for Africa. We meet all expenses. We are also introducing shortly e-lTEC and ITEC Executive to keep pace with the increasing demand for capacity building to cater to diverse quarters with diverse requirements.
We also offer fully sponsored higher education options for studying in lndia through our lndian Council for Cultural Relations. We have also seen a number of students travelling to lndia for higher studies on self financing basis. During the last two years, nearly 150 students from Togo have gone to a particular University in Shimla.

3. We will keep our markets open and make it easier and more attractive to trade with lndia. We will support our industry to invest in Africa.

lndia’s tracte with Africa is now over US$ 62 billion (latest figure to be updated- This is over 21 per cent more than in the previous year). LOC countries from Africa are making use of the DFTP scheme offered by lndia giving duty free access to almost 99% of our tariff lines and as a result Africa’s exports to lndia are growing significantly. For example, lndia-Togo bilateral trade turnover has seen a quantum jump and almost reached US$ 1 billion mark in 2018-19 and amounted to US $998.02 million. lndian imports from Togo almost doubled in 2018-19 and amounted to US $ 303.93 million. The figures of bilateral trade for the first quarter of FY 2019-20 have already amounted to US $ 436.75 million.
Traditionally, the lndian private sector presence in Africa has been in extractive industries, infrastructure projects or in SME sector. Of late, lndian industry have also invested in key sectors like automobiles, engineering, chemicals, banking, IT and ITES, telecom, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, education and services. Sorne of the big companies like Airtel, Tata Motors, Mahindra and Mahindra, Ranbaxy, Cipla, Dr. Reddy’s, Godrej, Emami, ONGC Videsh Limited, RITES and WAPCOS have their presence in Africa. Ali these companies along with the companies established by lndian nationals residing in African countries for long period of time also fulfill their corporate social responsibility and supplement respective government efforts towards attainment of SDGs. Important point is that lndian growth story with its ‘AAA” – Affordable, appropriate and Adaptable have found resonance in the African countries facing similar developmental challenges.
Affordable medicines of good quality provided by lndia’s pharmaceutical sector has helped many African countries to fight the scourge of deadly diseases which once threatened future of the continent particularly AIDS. The lndian medicines have also helped African nations to make medical treatment accessible and affordable.

4. We will harness lndia’s experience with digital revolution to support Africa’s development; improve delivery of public services; extend education and health; spread digital literacy; expand financial inclusion; and mainstream the marginalised.

ln the last decade or so, the rate of technological advancements has been unprecedented and the entire world is talking about Artificial Intelligence, digital economy and lndustry 4.0. Our economic ties are now increasingly driven by new partnerships of innovation in the digital economy. lndia is also helping the African countries to bridge the digital divide. The Pan Africa e-Network, was launched in Africa at the continental level in 2009, aimed at harnessing socio­economic benefits of ICT for tele-education and tele-medicine. The first phase of this programme is over and we are now launching the second phase. ln tact, my Ministry is spearheading the second phase of the tele-education and tele-medicine project titled E-VBAB e-VidhyaBharati and e-ArogyaBharati Network Project, which will offer 15,000 scholarships to African students over the next five years to pursue online short term courses, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from top lndian Universities. E-VBAB portal will be opened soon to ail African nationals and will include partner universities and hospitals. 1 will urge Togo to sign the Mou at the earliest.

lndia has also undertaken the establishment of institutions and training centres which are scattered across the African continent. During the last 4 years, 6 IT Centres were established in South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Lesotho, Ghana, Namibia and Tanzania; a CGARD Technology Centre in Madagascar; 7 Vocational Training Centres were established in Ethiopia, Rwanda; Burundi, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Zimbabwe and Egypt.

A Technology Centre was also established in Zimbabwe. Entrepreneurship Centres are being set up. Severa! similar projects including a skills development centre are being set up.

5. Africa has 60 per cent of the world’s arable land, but produces just 10 per cent of the global output. We will work with you to improve Africa’s agriculture.

lndian investment in the agriculture sector of Africa has been both through concessional LoCs and private sector. ln April this year, we signed US$ 150 Million Loc agreement with Ghana for Agricultural Mechanization Project, the largest Loc so far extended in the agriculture sector to any country. The Loc US$ 13.10 million utilized successfully by Togo was for Farming and cultivation of rice, maize and sorghum. Many lndian companies are also venturing into commercial farming and floriculture. lndian enterprises such as Jain Irrigation, Kirloskar, Ruchi Soya, Renuka Sugars etc. have established their presence in many African countries. lndia also supports in capacity building through providing of scholarships implemented by Department of Agriculture Research and Education (DARE) and the lndian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

6. Our partnership will address the challenges of climate change. We will work with Africa to ensure a just international climate order; to preserve our biodiversity; and, adopt clean and efficient energy sources.

A number of African countries have signed and ratified Framework Agreement of the international Solar Alliance and a number of Heads of States including H.E. President of Togo, Ghana and Burkina Faso had participated in the Founding Conference of ISA held in New Delhi on 11 March 2018. lndia had announced number of solar LoCs to kick start solar projects in many countries including electrification of 350 villages using solar photo-voltaic cell in Togo. lndia’s is also partnering with several coastal nations increasingly seeking to harness the benefits of Blue Economy in a sustainable manner.

7. We will strengthen our cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism; keeping our cyberspace safe and secure; and, supporting the UN in advancing and keeping peace.

lndia has stood shoulder-to-shoulder for peace and security. lndian peacekeepers have brought pride and glory to nation by serving in over a dozen UN peacekeeping missions in Africa, since our first mission in Congo in 1960. ln all the UN peacekeeping Missions in the world, 163 lndians have made the supreme sacrifice. This is among the highest number for any country. Almost 70 per cent of these embraced martyrdom just in Africa. Today, over 6,000 lndians serve in five peacekeeping operations in Africa. lndian women established a landmark with the first all-female Police Unit of the United Nations in Liberia. Our defence and security cooperation is growing with nations in Africa, as we work together to counter terrorism and piracy, and keep our seas secure.

8. We will work with African nations to keep the oceans open and free for the benefit of all nations. The world needs cooperation and not competition in the eastern shores of Africa and the eastern lndian Ocean. That is why lndia’s vision of lndian Ocean Security is cooperative and inclusive, rooted in security and growth for all in the region.

Security of sea lanes of communication is very important for economic security of Africa and lndia. We have entered into many agreements to ensure safety and security of SLOCs with many African countries particularly with littoral states on the East Coast. lt is with this vision that we assisted Togo in organization of AU Maritime Summit in October 2016 through gifting of US$ 1,00,000/-.

9. As global engagement in Africa increases, we must all work together to ensure that Africa does not once again turn into a theatre of rival ambitions, but becomes a nursery for the aspirations of Africa’s youth.
I need not elaborate on this principle, one of the most important one. lndia nurtures her relationship with countries irrespective of their relationships with other countries and our relationships are built on our strength guided by the shared history and intertwined future.

10. Just as lndia and Africa fought colonial rule together, we will work together for a just, representative and democratic global order that has a voice and a role for one­third of humanity that lives in Africa and lndia.

lndia and Africa have almost same population, similar economic size, same diversity, similar values, systems and the predominantly young population looking for growth, employment and ease of living and Ease of Doing Business. lndia today is among one of the fastest growing large emerging economy and Africa is witnessing resurgence of growth having some of the fastest growing economies in the World. Rise of lndia and Africa open new vistas for enhancing our bilateral cooperation. 1 am confident that the 2 Billion dreams will have common aspirations and shared journey bringing peace, prosperity and sustainable development to the entire world. lt is time for us to join hands and walk together to meet rising aspirations and expectations of our respective citizens.

I once again thank Hon. Foreign Minister for giving me this opportunity. 1 thank you all for your patience and would be happy to take questions, if any.