India hosted the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi this month.
Here are the 5 Ws of the event.
The 3rd India Africa Forum Summit was the meeting of leaders from India and all the countries that are part of the African subcontinent. As PM Modi mentioned in his speech during the event, the summit was essentially the convening of delegates representing around 1/3rd of the world’s population. It also represented two of the world’s most important developing regions. The Summit involved consultations between various departments of all the countries’ governments as well as bilateral talks between all the delegates.
The summit takes place on a rotation basis. The first conference took place in New Delhi in 2008 and the second one was in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Whereas the first two were relatively low-key meetings, this one has been more in keeping with PM Modi’s style of diplomatic spectacles.
This was one of the largest summits hosted by India. It welcomed delegations from all 54 African countries, the largest ever turnout of African leaders. In the past, the African Union would select delegates that would represent multiple African nations. The last African delegation in India in 2008 saw a turnout of only 15 leaders. Reports suggest that the reason for such a large turnout is two-fold. The first would be that the NDA government’s more pressing view of foreign policy has drawn otherwise passive nations to extend themselves. Secondly, China is currently the biggest player in Africa. However, with the recent instability in China’s stock market and the devaluation of the Chinese Yuan, African countries are seeking other options.
The Summit took place from the 26th to the 29th of October. The last time such a large delegation met in India was in 1983 for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit. This meeting could not have come at a better time for India. Regardless of Indian ground realities, the NDA government is at the height of propagating its international schemes after PM Modi’s trip to the USA. Secondly, support from African nations would greatly help India’s current bid to join the UNSC. Coupled with China’s current economic crisis, India could make big strides with Africa in terms of trade and investment as well.
The African continent is a big and lucrative market for any country that has the means to extend its influence in the region. The USA, European Union and China have all tried individually by holding their own summits with African nations. With this summit, it seems that India has also thrown its hat into the ring, hoping to make Africa its own sphere of influence. And due to its geographical proximity, cultural, economical and political lies, India may have a good shot. However, India will have to follow up its diplomacy with action, something that China has an upper hand in compared to India. While the 3rd India Africa Summit has been a successful event, only complementary ground work will truly strengthen the diplomatic ties.