Amid huge investments by China in the defence sector in Africa, India is taking steps to further deepen its defence cooperation with countries in the continent.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday assured the African nations that India would continue to work with them to promote regional security, foster stability and enhance their defence capabilities.
He was addressing the first edition of the India-Africa Army Chiefs Conclave organised on the sidelines of the second Africa-India Joint Exercise ‘AFINDEX’ in Pune. The conclave was attended by Chief of the Army Staff, Gen Manoj Pande and chiefs and representatives of 31 African nations, along with other civil and defence dignitaries.
Rajnath reiterated India’s commitment to providing support to African partner countries in all defence-related matters, including capability enhancement of their armed forces, to ensure their economic growth and social development. He emphasised that the full potential of a nation’s progress could be realised only when its security was ensured.
“We believe that preservation of individual human rights such as the right to life and personal liberty, right to employment, right to livelihood, etc. are dependent on a strong and effective state apparatus which can ensure the Rule of Law as well as promote economic growth and social development. Development can only take place in a safe and secure environment. Though many of us have come a long way since our independence, there are many African countries where the capacity building of state systems is still a work in progress,” the minister said while emphasising the need to build robust state structures which could cater to the needs and aspirations of the people.
India has been at the forefront of providing training to the armed forces of African nations and equipping them with the necessary skills to face the security challenges of the 21st century. The training programmes cover a wide range of areas, including counter-insurgency operations, peacekeeping, maritime security and specialised training in new domains such as cyber warfare and drone operations. It also encompasses training civilians in areas such as disaster management, humanitarian aid and medical assistance. A large number of African Countries’ armed forces personnel continue to visit India for training in different areas.
Rajnath that the joint exercises between India and African nations provide an excellent opportunity for the armed forces to learn from each other and promote interoperability. He described capacity building in terms of defence equipment and platforms as another critical aspect of India’s military cooperation with its African partners.
China has also been engaged in several defence infrastructure projects and defence supplies to African nations, which have been giving Beijing a foothold on the continent.