India to support Africa without conditionalities: Foreign Secretary at UNSC debate

India on Wednesday asserted that it welcomed the evolution and rise of Africa as a key factor in the contemporary world and is committed to supporting African countries in this endeavour, as per African priorities and without conditionalities in veiled reference to China’s development partnership model that has pushed some of African states into indebtedness.

This was stated by Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla during UN Security Council Open Debate ‘Challenges of maintaining peace and security in fragile contexts’. The event focused on the African continent. The event was presided over by the President of Tunisia as Tunisia holds the presidency of the Council for January 2021.

It may be noted that unlike China India has not dictated any project in African states and Delhi funded projects are solely based on requirements and suggestions from African capitals. Shringla emphasised that the Indian approach is in keeping with the Ten Guiding Principles of India’s engagement with Africa, as enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the Parliament of Uganda in July 2018.

“India will continue to support Africa’s aspirations and work towards empowering Africa for a future that is founded on the principles of inclusivity, sustainability, transparency, and socio-economic development with dignity and respect,” Shringla assured as India counts on African support during its 2-year stint as a non permanent member at the UNSC. In this respect Shringla pointed out that India has always supported African entrepreneurship and market access. India was the first developing country to provide duty free, quota free market access to LDCs which has been available over the years to 33 countries in Africa. India is Africa’s third-largest export destination. Indian companies have invested over US$ 54 billion in Africa and created hundreds of thousands of employment opportunities.

India is also extending debt relief to African countries under G-20 initiative. Referring to India’s robust security partnership with Africa, the senior diplomat stated, “We are actively engaged with capacity building of the security forces in several countries in Africa. Counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism training is one of the significant areas of our defence training programmes.” India has supplied critical medicines to several countries in Africa to help them fight the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have also responded to the call of the Secretary General and have upgraded our peacekeeping hospitals in the DRC and South Sudan during the peak of the pandemic.”

The debate provided an opportunity to reflect on fragile situations, particularly in the African continent. In this context, Shringla made some observations — legacy of colonialism constitutes the foundational basis of the current instabilities that plague the African continent; all fragility issues must be painted with the same brush. “Full respect for national ownership can never be over-emphasized. We should recognize the primacy of national governments and national ownership in identifying and driving priorities, strategies and activities for sustaining peace. The Security Council should remain respectful of the regional approach adopted by countries, in collaboration with regional organizations to address common challenges.” The Foreign Secretary also pitched for permanent seat for Africa in UNSC. “…We need to correct this historical anomaly, and collectively support the Ezulwini consensus.”

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