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African defence ministers to attend India-Africa Defence Dialogue in Gujarat next week

Written By: Sidhant Sibal
Monday October 17, 2022

Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh will address India-Africa Defence Dialogue Photograph:( Agencies )

As many as 13 African defence ministers will be travelling to India to participate in the India-Africa Defence Dialogue that will take place on October 18 on the sidelines of the 12th DefExpo in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh will be addressing the dialogue.

The dialogue, the first of which took place in Lucknow in 2020, aims to increase India-Africa defence engagement, with India pitting itself as the potential defence procurement market for African countries.

The 13 countries who will represent at the defence ministers level are Angola, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Mauritania, Madagascar, Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Cabo Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe and South Africa.

A release by the Indian defence ministry said that the meet “will explore new areas of convergence for mutual engagement, including in areas like capacity building, training, cyber security, maritime security and counter-terrorism". 

All in all, 37 African countries will be participating at the meet, seven at deputy ministerial level, and the rest 19 at top officials' level.

At the deputy ministers level, countries such as Liberia, South Sudan, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Eswatini and Uganda will participate.

Whereas countries at the official levels participating at the meet are Egypt, Eswatini, Morocco, Comoros, Congo, Niger, Kenya, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Mali, Guinea, Seychelles, Somalia, Uganda and Zambia.

India has been increasing its defence engagement with the continent in several ways, with focus on New Delhi being the sole destination for the defence requirement needs of Africa, especially on equipment.

Egypt has expressed interest in India's Tejas light combat aircraft. This year saw a key visit by Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh to the country with a key focus on developing military cooperation, joint training, defence co-production and maintenance of equipment.

India sees Egypt as a hub for maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) for Tejas aircraft for the larger African continent.

Under the security cooperation, India has increased its efforts like setting up of Defence Academies and Colleges and deployment of training teams in several African countries.

It has been associated with the establishment of defence institutions in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania and in the past, Indian training teams have worked with their counterparts in Botswana, Lesotho, Zambia, Uganda, and Namibia.

In 2019, during the visit of Singh to Mozambique, two Indian-made fast interceptor boats (FIBs) were handed to the Mozambican Navy. The boats are being used by the East African country for coastal surveillance.

New Delhi has had growing maritime security cooperation centered around Mauritius and Seychelles, something that is being extended to coastal African nations as well.

Goodwill visits by naval ships and defence training programmes are now a regular part of India’s defence cooperation with African nations.


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