India Woos Africa With Roses and Technology

Africa with its rich oil reserve is emerging as ‘New Gulf’ and India is trying hard to woo it, writes Rajeev Sharma.

4 min read
India Woos Africa With Roses and Technology

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India is all set to woo Africa with roses. Literally.

On 25 October, a day before the third India-Africa Forum Summit kick-starts in New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will inaugurate, along with African envoys, an India-Africa Rose Garden in Chanakyapuri’s diplomatic enclave in the national capital.

The rose garden will be symbolic of the fragrance and colour that the India-Africa relationship is increasingly getting imbued with. Each of the 42 African envoys will be planting a rose sapling, along with Swaraj, in the rose garden which will be maintained by the New Delhi Municipal Committee (NDMC).

The idea is to plant roses of different varieties and colours so that once the roses are in full bloom, they present a riot of colours symbolising the increasingly colourful and fragrant relationship between India and Africa at a time when the resource-rich continent is being looked at as the land of opportunities by the international community.

PM Narendra Modi with African media persons attending the 3rd India-Africa Editor’s Forum. (Photo: Twitter/@MEAIndia)

High on Technology Quotient

In the next couple of days, the Ministry of External Affairs is going to organise daily quizzes on Africa and India-Africa bilateral relations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the India-Africa Trade Meeting. (Photo: PTI)

Cash prizes and shopping vouchers will be given away to the winners. Major e-tailer Flipkart has been roped in for the purpose, which will ensure that the winners get their prizes at their doorsteps.

Besides, the upcoming summit is going to see India taking recourse to technology in a big way. The African delegates – around a thousand of them – will be provided with tablets uploaded with special apps to enable them to see the minute-to-minute programme of the four-day event.

This will be the government’s way to highlight Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project of Digital India. This paperless initiative will also demonstrate India’s commitment to promoting measures to safeguard the environment.


Why is Africa Important?

  • A record number, 52 out 54, African countries have confirmed their participation in the third India-Africa summit.
  • Africa can no longer be overlooked with respect to implementing ambitious reforms that the United Nations has just embarked upon.
  • Africa has overtaken the Middle East as a major oil supplier to the United States, thus increasing its strategic importance.
  • India is a late entrant into Africa and this anomaly is being systematically corrected.

Importance of Africa

A record number, 52 out of 54, African countries have confirmed their participation in the summit at the highest political levels. The 3rd India-Africa summit is going to see novel ways to establish a connect with the continent as enumerated above. Besides, the Modi government is all set to indulge in a clever bit of sartorial diplomacy by presenting the African leaders with specially stitched kurtas for a group photo opportunity.

The importance of Africa in political, strategic and economic terms cannot be overstated. This continent of 54 countries can no longer be overlooked by the international community in implementing ambitious reforms that the United Nations has just embarked upon with respect to the Security Council. India cannot achieve its goal of becoming a permanent member of the expanded UNSC without African support.

Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the India-Africa Trade Ministers’ Meeting 2015 in New Delhi on Friday. (Photo: PTI)

Correcting Past Folly

Africa is emerging as the ‘New Gulf’ – an alternative to the Gulf countries for energy needs. Africa is known to have 10 percent and 8 percent share of the proven global oil and gas reserves respectively. The continent has already overtaken the Middle East as a major oil supplier to the United States.

The trade meeting between ministers of India and Africa. (Photo: PTI)

According to the 2009 US Energy Information Administration records, Libya is home to Africa’s largest oil reserves with about 43.7 billion barrels in total, followed by Nigeria with 36.2 billion barrels, Algeria 12.2 billion barrels and Angola with 9 billion barrels. Other countries like Sudan, Gabon, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Mozambique, Ghana and Uganda have huge deposits of oil and gas which are either being exported or are being developed for export.

As compared to China, India is a late entrant into Africa.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (both standing in the centre) in 2014. (Photo: Forum on China-Africa Cooperation)

However, this anomaly is being systematically corrected by India since 2007 when India held its first stand-alone summit with Africa. The upcoming summit will be the biggest effort by India yet to reach out to the countries in the region.

(The writer is a strategic analyst and an independent journalist who tweets @kishkindha.)

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