- The first India-Africa Defence Minister’s Conclave was held on 6th February, 2020, on the sidelines of the ongoing Def Expo 2020 (5th to 9th February) in Lucknow.
- During the conclave, India, along with counterparts from 12 African nations and heads of delegations from 38 other African countries adopted the Lucknow Declaration.
- India and African nations had previously adopted declarations during the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in April 2008, India-Africa Forum Summit-II in Addis Ababa in May 2011 and the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, held in Delhi in October 2015 and the India-Africa Framework for Strategic Cooperation.
- All these declarations had worked to strengthen the multi-faceted partnership between India and Africa.
Major Highlights of the Declaration
Peace and Security
- Emphasizing the need for peace and security in both India and African region, the countries committed to continue their collaboration in the fields conflict prevention, resolution, management and peace building through-
- exchange of expertise and training
- strengthening regional and continental early warning capacities and mechanisms
- enhancing the role of women in peace keeping and propagating the culture of peace.
- In this regard, establishment of the African Union's International Centre for Conflict Resolution, Peace keeping and Peace building in Cairo as a major contribution to peace and security in Africa has been lauded by the countries.
- Stating that terrorism is a major threat in the region, the declaration urged all the signatories’ countries to take resolute action in rooting out terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and eliminating financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists.
- This must be done by enhancing cooperation and coordination between Africa and India to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and to combat transnational crime.
- In order to strengthen the UN Counter-Terrorism mechanisms and to ensure strict compliance with the UN Security Council sanctions regime on terrorism, it was urged that international community to envisage the adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations General Assembly.
- It emphasized to strengthen the Maritime security across both the region as it is a pre-requisite for the development of Blue and Ocean economy.
- It was decided to increase mutual cooperation in securing sea lines of communication, preventing maritime crimes, disaster, piracy, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing through sharing of information and surveillance.
- Regarding the aligning views of India and the African nations on the importance of the Indo-Pacific, the declaration stated that all member countries to encourage enhanced cooperation between India and Africa on the evolving concept of Indo-Pacific.
- It welcomed the African Union (AU) vision for peace and security in Africa that coincides with India’s vision of Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR).
- The countries called for deeper cooperation in the domain of defence industry including through investment, joint ventures in defence equipment software, digital defence, research & development, provisioning of defence equipment, spares and their maintenance on sustainable and mutually beneficial terms.
- The leaders also appreciated the initiation of Africa -India Field Training Exercises (AFINDEX) and agreed to further strengthen cooperation in defence preparedness and security.
Africa-India Joint Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX)
African Union (AU)
- The Lucknow Declaration will provide a major impetus to the India-Africa relation and will further help both the region to deal effectively against the critical challenges such as terrorism and extremism, piracy, human trafficking, drug trafficking, weapon smuggling, etc. and maintaining order and peace across both the regions.
Importance of Africa
- Africa is a continent on the move, characterised by rapid economic growth, rising educational and health standards, increasing gender parity, and expanding infrastructure and connectivity.
- In recent years, the African continent has been accorded top priority in Indian foreign and economic policy; there has been an unprecedented intensification of political engagemen.t
- A resurging Africa and a rising India can give a strong impetus to South-South Cooperation, especially when it comes to addressing challenges in areas like clean technology, climate-resilient agriculture, maritime security, connectivity, and Blue economy.
- On Economy side. African subcontinent provides a good market for Indian companies of different sectors whether it is automobile, IT or defence sector.
- Trade between Africa and India has increased more than eight-fold from USD 7.2 billion in 2001 to USD 59.9 billion in 2017, accounting for over 8 percent of India's total trade.
- To meet its energy security, India sources nearly 18% of its crude oil and also LNG requirement mostly from the West African region.
- Primary commodities and natural resources account for around 75 percent of Africa's total exports to India.
- In the perspective of geopolitics, having these 54 African nations as allies in the United Nations is favourable to India as these nations might support in passing any resolution.