AU and India launch action plan

AU_IndiaThe African Union and India have launched an action plan aimed at enhancing closer cooperation in various fields of development

According to Bwalya Nondo, Zambian High Commission in New Delhi first secretary for press, the launch of the plan took place in New Delhi, India, recently. It was witnessed by a 15-member delegation of the AU Commission and 42 Indian government officials and African heads of mission accredited to India at the Taj Mahal Hotel. The action plan, which will implement key decisions arising from the first India-Africa Summit held in 2008, outlines a detailed strategy for accelerating bilateral engagement for the next four years.

“This has given India increased momentum in the country’s engagement with Africa,” said India’s External Affairs Secretary, Vivek Katju.

Chief of Staff at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa, John Koyode Shinkaiye, said the action plan was ‘’a blueprint for partnership” that would promote sustainable development and create better market access for African products. He added that, “this is the beginning of the consolidation of the warm ties between India and Africa.’’

The action plan will, in specific terms, assist in navigating fields of economic cooperation and implementing thematic areas that are contained in the Framework of Cooperation. The faculties are identified as agriculture, trade, industry and investment, small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), finance and regional integration.

Others are political cooperation, science, technology, research and development, cooperation in social development and capacity building tourism infrastructure, energy and environment, media and communication. The expansion of a two-way trade, greater market access and investment facilitation with the sub-continent will be given great attention.

India will also set up Human Settlement Institutes in five African countries including Zambia as enshrined in the action plan. This will be in addition to the establishment of the India-Africa Diamond Institute in an African country yet to be selected, to help sharpen the continent’s skills in the processing, polishing and grading of raw diamonds.

India’s widely-acclaimed Duty Free and Tariff Preference (DFTP) Scheme for Least Development Countries (LDCs) in Africa will be maintained. In order to enhance SMEs, 10 vocational training centres will be established in Africa through the National Small Industries Corporation and support to existing vocational training institutions in Africa.

Under the plan of action, India will also make available US$5.4bn in Lines of Credit to African countries and institutions over the next five years. Support to capacity building and development of Pan-African Stock Exchanges, will also be extended. A US$300mn Line of Credit will be channelled into the continent’s regional integration drive through infrastructure projects.

Enhancing the capacity of African governments in implementing United Nations Resolution 1325 on women’s role in peace processes, the combating of illicit drug trafficking, and dealing in small arms and light weapons will receive support in the political realm. The plan is also tailored to strengthen the African Court on Human and People’s Rights. This will be undertaken through the sharing of best practices, capacity building, and the mobilisation of resources for the activities of the court.

Other issues on the agenda include the following:

  • the enhancement of research, development and scientific exchanges involving programmes and events to discuss the issues of transfer of technology mechanisms through institutional strengthening
  • the complete implementation of the Pan-African e-network project which supports developmental goals of African countries in education, health and communication sectors
  • supporting the AU’s vision for inter-connection of all African capital cities with broadband networks and work with Africa to build continental and national e-strategies
  • providing academic and professional guidance to agencies and institutions engaged in educational planning and administration in Africa
  • the strengthening of public and private sectors collaboration in the areas of pharmaceutical production and procurement in Africa and India in the Framework of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing plan for Africa
  • supporting Africa’s efforts to attain Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the area of water and sanitation
  • tapping cultural and sports talent among the large African student presence in India through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations
  • promotion of general tourism and joint tourism packages, including eco-tourism to utilise the geographical diversity of Africa and India
  • offering training programmes for up to 50 African participants annually, at the National Institute for Training of Highway Engineers in India
  • exploring renewable sources of energy in Africa in keeping with the Indo-Africa Hydrocarbon cooperation
  • sharing experiences on projects for carbon development mechanisms aimed at finding strategies to combat desertification and climate change which constitute major challenges for the international community
  • cooperating in human resource training in the area of modern corporate communications using modern technology (ICT)

It is evident that the action plan catalyses the shared conviction to deepen the India-Africa Strategic Partnership aimed at promoting sustainable development.

Nawa Mutumweno

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