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Reports on Conference

Name of Event:
  First ICWA Africa-India Academic Conference
"Africa and India: A Partnership for Development and Growth"

  11-12 May 2011

  Hilton Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Ahead of the Second India -Africa Forum Summit on 25 May 2011, a two-day academic conference was held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa by the Indian Council for World Affairs (ICWA) with collaboration with the Ethiopian International Institute for Peace and Development (EIIPD), and African Union Commission Secretariat on 11 and 12 May 2011.

The Conference was designed to achieve the following objectives:

To bring together Indian and African academics, researchers, policy makers, industrialists, senior officials from public and corporate sectors, and consultants and share their views and perspectives on issues relating to India-Africa partnerships for development and growth in various sectors

To promote collaboration of academic institutions from India and Africa to undertake joint projects and research on areas of mutual interest.

The conference was inaugurated by H.E.Demeke Mekonnen the Minister for Education, Government of Ethiopia, who was the Guest of Honour. H.E Ambassador Berhane Gebre Kristos, State Minster; Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ethiopia delivered the inaugural address. H.E. Mr Sebhat Negga Medhanve, Executive Director of EIIPD and Ambassador Sudhir.T.Devare, Director General, ICWA, New Delhi gave their welcome and introductory remarks. The keynote address of H.E. Mr Jean Ping's address was read out. During the conference, Memoranda of Cooperation were signed between the ICWA and three leading institutions from Egypt, Mozambique and Niger.

About 25 experts from India and African countries, drawn from areas such as strategic affairs, banking, gender issues, finance, policy, education, foreign relations and history presented papers on issues pertaining to the five thematic areas of the conference. Besides the experts, a large number of academics, policy makers, practitioners, media and civil society contributed to the debate and discussions in the conference.

The five thematic areas of focus were (a) India-Africa Partnership for Economic Development and Growth, (b) Capacity Building for Human Resource Development, (c) Women as Agents of Change (d) Diaspora as Resource for India and Africa, and (e) Non Traditional Security Issues. There were five working sessions which was preceded by the Inaugural Session.

Following are the Recommendations and Suggestions made at the end of the Conference

          African nations may create prospects for investments by Indian public and private sector companies and offer attractive opportunities for participation in the development for Africa.

           There is a need to diversify and expand trade with a large number of African nations. Currently, India Africa trade is concentrated in only four to five countries.

           India and African states would find it useful to negotiate sub-regional and bilateral trade agreements simultaneously.

           India Africa Business and Entrepreneur Fund should be utilized to augment industrial development in Africa

           EXIM Bank of India may enhance credits to business to facilitate expansion of bilateral trade .Lines of Credit (LOCs) by the EXIM Bank have so far played an important role in this direction.

           India may regard it a priority area to assist African nations to develop their telecommunications infrastructure.

           India Africa Technology Fund could support technology to African nations.

           India may host Annual Trade Fairs focused on Africa and similar arrangements could be made to hold India Business fairs in African countries

           India Brand Equity Fund (IBEF) should be harnessed to promote and create international awareness of the Made in India Label in African markets.

           India should share its experience of the successes in its Green Revolutions for enhancing food security in Africa.

           India and African countries must cooperate in renewable energy resources particularly in the hydel sector and solar and wind power.

           Establishment of Africa and India studies centre for enhancing mutual knowledge and understanding will go a long way in promoting relations. These could be undertaken by Indian and African universities and also by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) and the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) .Ph.D programmes focused on Africa and India may be undertaken.

           Academic 'twinning arrangements" between Indian and African universities to boost academic mobility could to be initiated.

           Sharing with African nations best practices of the Indian education system particularly in primary and secondary education would be highly useful. Indian schools may also be opened in Africa.

           Steps may be taken to strengthen the mechanism for a joint working group on education between countries and India. An Indo- African University in Africa would be a good platform for capacity building and would also be useful for Leadership Development that could act a catalyst for change in mindsets.

           It may be considered to establish centres of higher learning such as an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Africa to undertake high technology studies.

           Providing assistance to Africa in developing its trained pool of human resource for harnessing information Technology for growth and development could serve as the key to the Information Communication Technologies (ICT) based knowledge economy.

           Assistance to African nations to establish vocational centers for generating a pool of skilled human resource should prove highly useful.

           Studies should also focus in poverty alleviation, delivering good health services to masses and modern sanitation systems. Information Communication Technologies should be harnessed to provide telemedicine services.

           It may be a good idea to expand the existing IGNOU tele-education network to include Africa.

          Equitable development is a major challenge for India and Africa. In fact the success of our development strategies and social stability would largely depend on our ability to create inclusive growth. Both partners must therefore undertake research on the issue and develop a policy framework. Issues of democracy and governance are pre-requisites for any such cooperation for mutual partnership.

           India and African countries must encourage institutionalized arrangements for exchange of perspectives on gender issues among experts.

           India should share with African nations its approaches to empowerment of women, greater political participation, enhanced role in governance and decision making.

           Exchange views on India's policies on 'right to education 'particularly for girl child.

           Both India and African nations must develop tailored health programmes for Women keeping in mind the cultural sensitivities.

           India should share with African nations its approaches to empowerment of women, greater political participation, enhanced role in governance and decision making.

           Exchange views on India's policies on 'right to education 'particularly for girl child.

           Both India and African nations must develop tailored health programmes for Women keeping in mind the cultural sensitivities.

           Establishment of India Africa Fund for Women Entrepreneurs for empowerment of women.

           Diaspora is a strategic resource and should be leveraged for building bilateral relations.

           National policies should meet the expectation of the respective diaspora particularly in the context of citizenship, voting rights, protection identity and respect for their religion and cultural beliefs.

           India should share its policies on its engagement with its diaspora with African nations.

           India and Africa should adopt multilateral approaches to respond to non- traditional security threats and challenges given that these are transnational in nature and therefore necessitate greater cooperation

           Both partners must build robust capacities and develop strategies for mitigating NTS threats and challenges particularly those arising from climate change, food security and maritime security

           Identity resources and conduct exercises to respond to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations

           Enhance maritime security in the Indian Ocean by sharing experiences on counter piracy and illegal fishing operations.

           Undertake research on the sociological origin of conflict in Africa.

The details of the observations made by the speakers and the discussions held during the Inaugural and Working session are mentioned below.

DAY I- 11 May 2011

Inaugural Session:

Inaugurating the conference H.E. Demeke Mekonnen the Minister for Education, Government of Ethiopia, highlighted India's commitment to sustainable development and stressed on the importance of India's investment especially in education sector for future development of human resources in Africa.

H.E. Mr. Birhane Gebre-Christos,the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Ethiopia underlined the shared historical experiences in African- India relations as the basis for political, social and technical cooperation between Africa and India. He observed that the emergence of new global powers in recent times underscored the need for reinvigorating Africa-India Partnership and further lauded India's contribution in Africa in various fields, varying from sharing experience in building small scale enterprises to the involvement of Indian entrepreneurs in large scale investment in various parts of Africa.

Welcoming the participants and delegates from India and African countries H.E. Mr. Sebhat Negga, the Executive Director of EIIPD highlighted the importance of the conference in the run up to the Second India- Africa Forum Summit. He noted the importance Africans have given to their cooperation with India and stressed that for a sustainable partnership between India and Africa both sides need to be in equal footing and Africa which has aspirations for democratization and good governance has to deliver more and put its house in order.

Amb. Sudhir T Devare, Director General ICWA, highlighted the significance of the conference as an effort to provide a platform for a balanced and focused debate on issues relating to partnerships between India and Africa in various sectors among scholars and experts from India and Africa. He outlined that the conference is organized with a view to address the need for a regular and intensive dialogue not only at the government - to- government level, but also at academic and people-to-people level.

The Deputy Chairperson of African Union Commission, in his speech noted the contribution of the 2008 Africa-India Summit in heralding the institutionalization of Africa-India Relations and emphasized that India-African relations should be informed by principles of equity, freedom, human rights and democracy. In their addresses, the eminent speakers emphasized on (a) need for an intensive and active dialogue with Africa (b) reinvigorating Africa-India Partnership in the context of emergence of new global powers in recent times (c) the importance of India's investment in education sector for future development of human resources (e) and how India-Africa relationship should be informed by principles of equity, freedom, human rights and democracy.

DAY II-12 May 2011

Session I: India-Africa Partnership for Economic Development: Exploring New Vistas for Cooperation

The panelists identified various potential areas of investment such as agriculture and mining and highlighted how Africa's partnership with India is becoming more and more beneficial in the areas of finance, and science & technology. Africa's readiness and commitment to facilitating investment by providing incentives was also noted. Some speakers also drew attention to the challenges in the Africa- India Economic relations. One of the challenges pointed out was the concentration of trade involving a few African Countries such as Nigeria, Angola, and Egypt, as the major exporter to India with similar pattern of imports to Africa from India. The discussion also focused on the areas that should be prioritized in the context of the partnership such as infrastructure development, creating conducive environment for the private sector, and capacity building. Concerns were also expressed about the practices of sidelining recommendation of academic conferences in the past, and therefore the importance of practical implementation of the recommendation of such conferences was underlined.

Discussion also revolved around the level of cooperation between India and Africa. While some panelists noted the importance of sub-regional level cooperation based on the notion of economy of scale, others gave importance to the continental scope of cooperation so that the voice of African countries would not be fragmented and the risk of duplication of efforts at regional levels would be avoided. With regard to the discussion on the role of the private sector, it was stated that while there could be opportunistic behavior on the part of some of the private sector, the legitimate role of the private sector should be reorganized, with a necessary regulatory mechanism put in place.

The first session was concluded with the following notes forwarded by the presenters.

          The existing frameworks of cooperation in African-India relations should be examined critically to identify the levels of cooperation, and to synergize the process of partnership for development and growth.

          Importance should be given to consolidating activities that have already been started, such as privatization.

          Mutual trust and accountability needs to be cultivated and past experiences of mutual respect need to be built upon to strengthen India-Africa relations for mutual growth and development.

          Proper necessary regulatory mechanism should be put in place in order to monitor the opportunistic behavior on the part of some of the private sector players.

Session-II: Capacity Building for Human Resource Development

Much of the discussion in the second session was focused on the need for Africa's adaptability in science and technology as central to human resource capacity building, in which India has been a good example for providing support. The importance of African and Indian intellectuals to actively work together in the areas of technology, knowledge and experience sharing was highlighted during the discussion. However social science should also be given equal emphasis. It was also noted that for Africa's focus on knowledge and skills to secure its place in the knowledge economy was important. To that effect technical and vocational skills need to be given due importance.

Some of the recommendations and suggestions put forward were

           The importance of improvement in governance

           Investment in education involving scholarships for African and Indian scholars

           Establishment of frontline institutions in various fields and university level relations.

           Expanding foot prints of Indian Universities in Africa

           Working towards minimizing higher education dropouts

Session -III: Women as Agents of Change

The panelists noted the commonalities of challenges faced by women in both India and Africa, persisting inequality of women due to change resistance and persisting stereotypes, invisible yet enormous contribution of women to agricultural sector of Indian economy, relative greater burden on women compared to their male counterparts in Africa, 'gender budgeting' and quota based representation of women in Indian legislature, the role of African Human and Peoples Protocol on the rights of women, African Union (AU) gender policy in the framework of the Decade, the role of the decade in providing time framework, and recognition of women as not passive actors.

Several suggestions were put forth in the forms of (a) AU's actions for strengthening the capacity building of African women, (b) effective institutionalization of gender aspect in Africa-India partnership., (c) recognition of women, their participation in decision making, making provision for women such as seed banks to be important areas of engagement, (d) building gender based institutions at the international level to enable women having a say in diplomacy, global economy etc., (e) real transformation by making the personal the political and making space for policies and their use, and (f) implementation of existing gender justice policies.

Session IV: Diaspora as a Resource for Africa

The panelists highlighted challenges of different definitions of Diaspora, and the question of how deep to go into history to define Diaspora, the harnessing of Diaspora resources for India's development, enormous diversity of Indian Diaspora and its impact on India's global policy towards the same, remittance-driven shift in India's Diaspora policy from dissociation towards active engagement, the role of Diaspora in state diplomacies, different stages of migration of Indians to Africa and their role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa, African countries' failure to engage the services of foreign citizens, active participation of Kenyan Diaspora in political processes in the country of their origin and their demands of dual citizenship, contributions of Indian Diaspora to Ethiopia in various fields, and also the role of Ethiopian students in India in creating mutual understanding.

Several suggestions were put forward in the forms of (a) diasporic communities for contributing to the countries by means of building organizational network, (b) establishing institutions to manage conflict over interests between host and sending states, (c) bringing in Diaspora in formal as well as people to people diplomacy to harness diasporic resources, (d) leveraging continental Diaspora at multilateral level, (e) establishing best practices, including in the areas of dual citizenship, research on geographic distribution, link between African and Indian Diaspora to meet the aspirations of Diaspora without duplicating efforts, (f) taking into consideration the lineage, periods of migration and concepts of inclusiveness while defining Diaspora, (g) making efforts to make diaspora feel at home, (h) continuation of scholarship programmes, for instance, for Ethiopian students in India, Indian embassy dedicating desk for students and waiver of yellow fever vaccination requirements, relaxation in business visa requirement, India's help in sending medical surgeons and civil engineers, (i) Ethiopian Governrnent for giving long term residence permit to Indian community in Ethiopia; the need for more Indian schools will help in furthering the objectives of harnessing Diaspora resources, (j) promoting knowledge about India and Africa, with more programs of African studies in India and Indian studies in Africa.

Session V: Non-Traditional Security, Strategies of Mitigation

The discussion during the fifth session revolved around various types and enormity of Non-Traditional Security (NTS) threats, the strategies to mitigate these threats, and the challenges in the implementation of strategies- bilateral or multilateral- given the different nature of these threats. While several nontraditional threats figured during the discussion, five issues - information security, resource extraction, Energy security, food security and maritime security -were given greater focus especially in the context of India Africa partnership. Food security and maritime security in Indian Ocean was underlined as a key area of common concern vital for Africa-India partnership.

Some of the suggestions put forward were (a) on the aspect of food security it was mentioned that the challenge could be tackled by making use of Indian experience of green revolution, and use of traditional knowledge from Africa. (b) Maritime security in the Indian Ocean does not only need military solution but also the socio-economic factors need to be addressed. This requires proactive involvement of India with regional and multilateral bodies like Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and AU and greater coordination among African states.

Concluding Session

Delivering the valedictory addresses the African Union Commissioner appreciated the presenters, the organizers and the participants. He summarized the achievements of the Conference and observed that the conference fulfilled the intention of the organizers to expand the frontier of the issue beyond governmental and non-governmental bodies. He observed that the First ICWA Africa -India conference called for closer cooperation to realize the strategic visions discussed. He further underlined the importance of signing the memorandum of understanding, between IICWA and three leading institutions from Egypt, Mozambique and Niger by stressed on how that will strengthen people to people relations. In his concluding remarks H.E.Mr. Sebaht Negga, Director of EIIPD, emphasized that transparency, democracy, and accountability are pre-requisites for building sustainable partnership. At the end Ambassador Sudhir to T Devare, Director General ICWA expressed his satisfaction with the Conference, and mentioned that India is happy about partnership with Africa and the conference was successful in its objective to initiate a dialogue on the various contours of India-Africa Partnership.

Report by:         Dr Nivedita Ray and Dr. Sandipani Dash, Research Fellow, Indian Council of World Affairs