Africa in a Changing World

Author: His Excellency Mr Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohammad

Period: April 2002 - June 2002

Africa in a Changing World

His Excellency Mr Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohammad

 

To the television viewers and readers of printed media, the continent of Africa is rarely mentioned. This is no surprise to any observer familiar with the coverage of African events dominated, at its best, by news of disasters, calamities and a certain disease called Afro-pessimism. Take important global issues, like the issue of terrorism, which is the current household topic in the four corners of the world. Africa’s position, perspectives or reactions are hardly focused on, as if the continent is not fitting into such schemes. Theories of international relations themselves are not only Euro-centric but developments in Africa have made mockery of them. The withering away of the state led Africa to poverty and civil strife and not affluence as earlier predicted by Marxist thought.

Is such negligence warranted? Is it the destiny of Africa to lag behind? How does the continent look like as it enters the Twenty First century? What is Africa’s response to changing times?

I am greatly honoured to be here today in the midst of this distinguished audience to share my thoughts and ideas on the issue of ‘Africa in a changing world’. Indeed, no place is better equipped to diagnose the African condition than the USI. Since its inception, the United Service Institution of India has been closely associated, inter alia, with various issues of international peace and security, including peace-keeping experiences and operations in Africa. That many dedicated Indians have regularly been involved in duties in almost all conflict situations in that part of the world is yet another reminder of the centuries-old interaction between India and Africa. India has not only been part and parcel of Africa’s dreams and ambitions but its political thought itself was also greatly influenced by the destinies of Africa. Nehru’s doctrine of ‘positive neutralism’ that shaped the approach of developing countries to foreign policy in the entire post-colonial era was influenced by African developments, namely, the Algerian War and the Suez Canal events of 1956. Gandhi’s philosophy was also influenced by his experience in South Africa. Perhaps one of the lessons that we should take on board as we discuss this topic is that current uncertainties in the international system should not cloud our vision on the imperative of close solidarity and co-ordination between developing countries.

Africa is an ancient seat of glorious civilisations. In size and demography, Africa is the second largest continent and the third largest in population. Current population estimates are around 840 million, representing 12 per cent of the world’s population, with rich diversities corresponding to colourful variations in climate, flora and fauna. Africa’s significant contribution to world-culture through literature, music, visual arts and other cultural forms and expressions is well organised. For Africa, whose people date back to much more than three millennia and some of whom follow different historical calendars, the coming of a new century, nevertheless, imposes a duty on the part of Africa, its leaders and peoples, to reflect over the past and ponder over the future. According to a recently published article in the reputed periodical Foreign Affairs, both Sudan and Ghana in Africa were better off than South Korea and some Asian tigers, at the beginning of the 1960s, in terms of GDP and overall economic performance. During that period the people of Africa had achieved a short span of self-realisation and were socially optimistic. The continent was seen as resurgent culturally and politically self-assertive. Not long after, an atmosphere of gloom descended on the continent. Indeed, many have expressed the fear that Africa will be left behind de-coupled from the waves of integrated markets as well as from the global technological and information revolution that is moving on at a bewildering speed. Africa finds itself at crossroads today.

There is no denying the fact that the Twentieth Century has witnessed an era in which the African initiative and resolve was impeded for a long time, first, by the colonial legacy followed by the constraints and rivalry of the cold war. The impact and fallout of this era have greatly shaped the current situation in Africa in the political, economic and social fields. Africa is currently facing daunting challenges and heavy burden. This includes economies in disarray in various parts of the continent; low economic growth; food insecurity; rampant poverty; degrading environments; civil strife; inter and intra state conflicts; acute debt problems exceeding more than one third of all export earnings by the entire continent and amounting to a figure of 400 billion US Dollars; skilled manpower and capital flight; eight million refugees and twelve million displaced persons; natural calamities including drought and desertification; unfavourable trade conditions with a contribution of less than three per cent in world trade; investment landscape threatened by the entry of the former Soviet republics as recipients and competitors to development assistance; serious spread of epidemics targeting the most productive segments of the population and in particular AIDS as more than half of the world’s 44 million Aids patients are from Africa, in addition to other killing diseases like Malaria. In Africa, 350 million inhabitants, nearly half of the population, live on less than one US Dollar a day. Only 58 per cent of the population have access to safe water for drinking. Mortality rate among children under five years of age is 150 per 1000, whereas life expectancy is only 54 years. The rate of illiteracy for people over 15 years of age is 41 per cent. With the disappearance of the cold war and the end of the East-West confrontation as the core of geopolitics during which Africa had a margin of manoeuvrability, the continent will now suffer net trade losses under a single European market due to the decline if not the removal of preferential treatment and the tough competition Africa’s exports would face from other emerging regions. The least developed countries in Africa which constitute the majority of the world’s LDC (33 out of 48), stand to lose upto 600 million US Dollars a year. Development and stability remain a distant dream with the continuation of a vicious circle involving poverty and environmental degradation with civil strife augmenting both.

The super-power rivalry and the cold war are a reminder that the African agony is not an act of omission or commission by the Africans. There is no denying the fact that many of the ills can be traced to internal failures. Yet, in a continent whose destiny has always been a product of external factors including even the roots of and very idea of Pan-Africanism itself, the role of external factors cannot be over-emphasised. Indeed the seeds of Africa’s difficulties were many. Africa basically emerged as supplier of cheap raw materials, which, in effect, drained its resources rather than skillfully being used for sustainable development. Little attention was given to manufacturing and exporting value-added products in order to generate resources, diversify economies, provide employment opportunities, transfer technologies and promote entrepreneurial skills. Beginning with the early post-independence period, little attention was given to institutional capacity building. The situation was also characterised by poor infrastructure; dependence on basic primary commodity exports for which the growth in worldwide demand remains weak; poor and weak financial sector and human capital; excessive external borrowing, inefficient large public sector and absence of a dynamic private sector. At the micro-economic level, volatility of prices and foreign exchange markets have led to fluctuation in export earnings which have become a major source of fiscal instability and negativity affected savings. With the society and the informal sector catering for survival in the face of paralysed economies, there emerged what we can term as informalisation of African economies. The situation was further aggravated by the cycle of droughts in the early seventies and mid-eighties; increase in oil price in 1973 and 1979; rise of international interest rate and the build up of external debt. The lack of power and capacity to absorb such shocks and the limited access to resources to cushion them has led to persistence of macro-economic instability. All these have contributed to the fact that Africa, the most richly endowed continent, remains the poorest. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the former republics have become aggressive competitors for investment and development assistance. If ‘Perestroika’ has turned the eyes of observers to ‘Catastroika’, in some parts of the world, it is in Africa that dreams of sustainable development have transformed themselves into ‘lost decades’ with the continent becoming a field of experimentation of the different World Banks and IMF doctrines and theories, ranging from ‘basic needs’ to ‘structural adjustment programmes’ to ‘Good Governance’ and many others in the 1960s-1990s, which rather than ameliorating the African condition, only worsened it. Whereas the world market implies free movement of ideas, goods and peoples, the irony is that hurdles continue to be placed for movement of people from developing regions, including Africa, with the Western countries hardening their immigration laws including the laws regarding asylum-seekers. Xenophobia and related intolerance have largely been on the rise. Not only in the economic and social domains, Africa became the least favoured but on issues of peace and security too the continent continues to suffer most. International cooperation was not only lacking on vital issues like eradication of poverty but rhetoric on the indivisibility of the world’s peace, and stability was also unveiled with the reluctance by the international community to assist the people of Rwanda and Somalia when its involvement was most needed. From the political and economic angles the end of the cold war and of the bipolar world have reduced Africa’s strategic weight in the world community. Yet, in the eyes of many observers, the continent of Africa has now acquired the opportunity to concentrate more than ever before on the real problems rather than fighting others’ wars. This is an era of global co-operation. There are, of course, huge uncertainties and many unanswered questions. As the passage of more than five decades has not given Africa the peace and development it had the right to expect, Africa should vigorously respond to the new rules of the game and to the emerging challenges. As development is a long-term process Africa’s strategy should encompass its endowment and resources, comparative advantage as well as global conditions.

As Africa is doing its own inventory and self-retrospection, the continent can look back with pride to many important achievements realised against heavy odds and obstacles. Having a continental body since 1963, Africa is undoubtedly ahead of Asia, which is yet to have an Asian-wide umbrella organisation for regional cooperation. Decolonisation was achieved and Apartheid eradicated. The frontiers of freedom in Africa have been expanded. From 32 founding members of the OAU (Organisation of African Unity) in 1963, the current membership of the African Union stands at 53. Africa made colonialism untenable and racism shameful, thus contributing greatly to setting civilised norms of international behaviour. With the rest of the other peace-loving nations, Africa persisted in its struggle for economic emancipation. It has also contributed in making development, disarmament and peace a key agenda for the international community. There is also an active push for democratisation and homegrown solutions as well as increasing recognition by the people of Africa of the vital role of the civil society. In some countries remarkable growth rate has been achieved and in many others economic reforms are underway. Afro-pessimism has not faded away, but many others continue to believe in the ‘African Rennaissance’ and the ability of Africa to make this phase of history an African Century. Africa is the continent of enormous wealth. It has 90 per cent of the world’s Chrome, 80 per cent of the world’s Platinum, 65 per cent of the world’s Magnesium, 40 per cent of the world’s Uranium, 35 per cent of the world’s Copper, 70 per cent of the world’s Cocoa, 30 per cent of the World’s Coffee, 25 per cent of the world’s Oil, 90 per cent of the world’s Gum Arabic, 99 per cent of the world’s Cobalt, in addition to the enormous wealth in many agricultural products, diamonds and gold. In an emerging global economy that can be described as competitive interdependence, it is incumbent upon the African countries not only to enhance political stability but equally to promote economic development with a global perspective in order that the new opportunities are harnessed and challenges properly faced. Moreover, Africa risks marginalisation if it does not assess the prevailing world situation realistically. The profound developments in both strategic power balances and the world political economy have changed the circumstances in which Africa has to operate. Gone are the days when Africa was adored to satisfy ideological considerations. Africa’s struggle for economic liberation should not only ensure benefit from the new opportunities of globalisation but should also guard against equating it with the interests of the poorer economies. That is why Africa is in favour of both globalising democracy as well as democratising globalisation.

Globalisation is erasing boundaries and preexisting barriers of time and space. In the words of Professor Ali Mazrui, globalisation is the villagisation of the world. It has touched all aspects of human life, threatening those who are unable to compete effectively with marginalisation. The scientific and technological advances are all clear facts that a second most sophisticated industrial revolution with far-reaching implications is there to stay. Globalisation has so far led to creation of islands of growth within large underdeveloped and marginalised sectors. This dichotomy is increasingly widening. Indeed some in the international community are living on the edge of a prosperous new economy while the overwhelming majority lives at the knife’s edge of survival. Gone are the days when the ‘We the peoples of the United Nations’ of the UN Charter preamble can be taken for granted. Ironically, even the developed countries are no longer immune to troubles of the developing world. Whereas the developed countries claim indivisibility of issues of peace and security the worldover, arrogating to themselves the right to intervene, sometimes militarily, their performance on the economic front does not tally with this unity of purpose in the political sphere, as some western quarters deny the right to development itself. Polarisation between wealth and poverty and inclusion and exclusion is certainly not in the interest of international peace, security and harmony. There is no denying the fact that many of the conflicts had and continue to have their roots in the exploitative and unbalanced economic relations between and among nations. Poverty breeds terror and frustration, the elimination of which should be in the forefront of the international agenda. The continent should not only insist on the indivisibility of economic destinies and the spillover effects of poverty but it should also address the serious pitfalls that are still ahead. Globalisation is indifferent to human, cultural and environmental values as it is technology-based and a market-driven process. However, since people are both the end and the means of development, the process must be human-centred, with the achievement of food security, universal access to health care, education and employment being the primary objectives. This is the reason why Africa should take seriously the role of injecting these values into the globalisation process.

However enormous the challenges in the economic and cultural domain, important political implications should also be confronted. At a time when a strong state is needed in Africa to deal with the profound challenges of nation-building, the erosion of state power and sovereignty brought about by the new world order is seriously felt in Africa more than any other region. The process of integration of markets has negatively influenced the power of the state. Selectivity and double standards when it comes to African interests, interventionist tendencies on humanitarian grounds, unbalanced information flow have all become permanent features. Selective invoking of human rights agenda to serve political objectives, extra-territorial application of domestic laws, intrusive and selective invoking of labour standards in addition to aggressive intellectual property rights and environment linked conditionalities are all but beyond the capacity of African countries to sustain.

The challenge before Africa today is how to make the historic transition to the Twenty First Century more smooth, quick and responsive to the needs of the African people. Also how to minimise risks and make the best use of opportunities.

Africa’s yearnings for unity, cherished more than a century ago by Africans in the diaspora, like Henry Sylvester Williams, Garvey and Du Bois, which finally found expression in 1963 with the establishment of the OAU as an amalgamation of Monrovia and Casablanca Groups, is still valid for contemporary needs and challenges as it was in the past. In a world that is moving towards larger trading blocks, the African Union is not only an embodiment of the continent’s most needed cooperation and integration, but also a survival imperative.

In the Sirte Declaration establishing the African Union, the African leaders established:

"…the imperative need for a high sense of urgency to rekindle the aspirations of our peoples for stronger unity, solidarity and cohesion in a larger community of peoples transcending cultural, ideological, ethnic and national differences… In order to cope with these challenges and to effectively address the new social, political and economic realities in Africa and the world, we are determined to fulfill our peoples aspirations for greater unity in conformity with the objectives of the OAU Charter and the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community (The Abuja Treaty). It is also our conviction that our continental organization needs to be re-vitalized in order to be able to play a more active role and continue to be relevant to the needs of our peoples and responsive to the demands of prevailing circumstances… we are also determined to eliminate the scourge of conflicts, which constitute a major impediment to the implementation of our development and integration agenda.”

With South Africa hosting the first Summit under the new African Unity, in July 2002, Africa will enter a new phase in its history with renewed determination to achieve socioeconomic development of its peoples and most importantly to safeguard the social fabric of its societies in the face of looming fragmentation of the continent.

The challenges in the political fields are many. While the democratic changes in Africa are indeed commendable, it is important to avoid in this process the imposition of models at any cost. Homegrown democracy that ensures multi-party system and political pluralism, rule of law, safeguarding rights and fundamental freedoms, popular participation, transparency and accountability should be the objective. The democratic forms and structures may vary, as in the case of Europe, but the basic ingredients of democracy should not be compromised. There is no single recipe for democracy, and it has to be developed to fit the needs and the culture of each country. Africa should also cope with the changing concept of security. The notion of security has now transcended the narrow meaning of territory or state security. It now includes security of the individual looked at from various angles to ensure his economic, food, health, environment, political and personal securities. In this connection also, there can be no development without peace. In 1755 Adam Smith observed that peace is a pre-requisite to realising maximum economic growth and also a survival prerequisite in Africa. This is why conflict resolution, preventive diplomacy, early intervention and addressing the root causes of conflicts are seen as priorities at this point of time. The establishment within the OAU of a Mechanism for Conflict Prevention Management and Resolution in 1993, is a commendable development. The OAU Declaration establishing this mechanism recognises that no single internal factor has contributed more to the present socio-economic problems in the continent than the scourge of conflicts within and between African countries. The lack of such support limited the ability of the organisation to deal effectively with the problems of the Great Lakes Region in the continent. The mechanism is composed of state members of the OAU Summit Bureau, elected annually. It functions at the Heads of State and Government, Ministerial and Ambassadorial levels. While Africa should be prepared to deal with its conflicts, the international community can make a contribution by providing financial and logistical support as well as post-conflict reconstruction.

Many countries in the African continent have undertaken economic and social reforms to improve governance as well as to create an environment for mobilisation of resources to serve the objective of sustainable development. However, there are certain economic priorities. Eradication of poverty comes first. The primary task of the African governments and peoples is poverty reduction through accelerated economic growth and sustainable development as well as effective integration of African economies into the global economy. Poverty reduction is strongly linked to agricultural development, taking into consideration that the agricultural sector accounts for 45 per cent of the continents GDP, 45 per cent of exports and 75 per cent of employment. Agricultural development requires revitalisation of the rural economy, increased access, especially for women, to micro-credit and income-generating programmes. Achieving food security, attaching greater importance to the rural population, empowering the private sector, strengthening of the civil society, empowering women, investing in education, health and bridging the digital divide vital for the knowledge based economy are all key elements in the socio-economic strategy of the continent’s revival and renewal. These objectives are embodied in various initiatives such as the Lagos Plan of Action, the Cairo Agenda for Action Relaunching Africa’s Economic Recovery, the Industrial Development Decade for Africa, the African alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Programmes, the African Charter for Popular Participation, the Khartoum Declaration on Human-Centred Development and the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community. The policy documents have identified the continent’s priorities and its primary responsibility for its growth and development. While required to develop its human capital, diversify its economy and reduce the technological gap, Africa is also faced with the task of formulating sound population policies with an annual growth rate of nearly three per cent compared to growth of about 1.8 per cent a year in Asia and Latin America. In the absence of proper socioeconomic policies, high population growth puts pressure on national resources with possible social tension and conflicts over access to resources, in addition to environmental problems like soil degradation and erosion, deforestation, desertification and the limited water supplies which constrain development. Africa should have a balanced regional development to ensure equitable distribution of wealth and an affirmative action to support deprived segments of its societies as well as constitutional guarantees to preserve the cultural and linguistic heritage and rights of its populace. Neither should Africa lose sight of the imperative to overcome the structural impediments to growth in addition to creating sound atmosphere to attract investment as well as encourage domestic and foreign resource mobilisation. Such task is crucial if Africa is to achieve the estimated seven per cent annual growth rate and if it is to reduce by half the percentage of Africans living in poverty by the year 2015. Africa should enhance its competitiveness in order that the realities created by the international trading system and the WTO can be dealt with efficiently.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is one of the latest African attempts to come to terms with itself and the world. NEPAD has come in the limelight following the visit of the British Prime Minister to some African countries lately and the Mini Summit held recently in Paris in the presence of some African Heads of State and the French Leadership. NEPAD is a vision document outlining the determination of the Africans to combat the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalising world. It is a pledge by African leaders to eradicate poverty, realise sustainable growth as well as participate actively in the world economy and body politic. The document sets targets of economic growth and a programme of action with short, medium and long-term objectives. Expected outcomes of the strategy include economic development and increased employment, reduction in poverty and inequality, diversification of productive activities, enhanced international competitiveness and increased exports as well as increased African integration. To achieve these goals, the document pledges "a series of commitments by participating countries to create or consolidate basic governance processes and practises". The document also envisages a mechanism called the Heads of State Forum serving as a platform for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development as well as the setting up of task forces in some socio-economic sectors. While any effort to enhance the image and interests of Africa is commendable, the forthcoming Summit of the African Union is expected to address the various issues raised by this initiative, and to seek ways and means to situate its goals within the overall African strategies agreed upon before in the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community. Some have already raised questions about the relationship of nepad with existing African strategies and structures since the current initiative envisages different mechanisms that may overlap with existing ones. Some questions also have been raised about whether the new initiative carries any conditionalities as was the case with the Kampala Document of the Africa Leadership Forum which was not adopted in the Dakar Summit as an OAU document because of certain apprehensions. It is to be mentioned also that nepad is expected to be discussed in the forthcoming G-8 Summit as well as the World Sustainable Development Conference in South Africa in August, 2002.

While the development of Africa is the responsibility of the Africans themselves, first and foremost, regional economic co-operation and integration, and South-South Co-operation, have a central role to play in this scheme. The leaders and peoples of Africa should take seriously the strengthening and consolidating the Regional Economic Communities as building blocs for achieving the objectives of the African Economic Community and ultimately the realisation of the African Union. Sub-regional groupings, like sadc (South African Development Community), ecowas (Economic Community of West African States), igad (Intergovernmental Authority on Development), Arab Maghreb Union, comesa and others, working with varying degrees of success, should be revitalised as a major strategic option to achieve self-reliance as well as to enhance greater continental integration. South-South Co-operation ceased to be a luxury or rhetoric. There are various reasons that call for giving the co-operation between the countries of the South a new substance and content. They include the fundamental changes that have taken place in North-South economic relations reducing the favourable impact that North-South trade has historically had on economic growth in the South, the great potential that exists in the inter-regional South-South trade and the need for co-operation and solidarity among the countries of the South to safeguard their common interests following the Uruguay Round of Trade Agreements and the anticipated global trade negotiations that may seek to expand multilateral discipline to other areas. The Report of the South Commission promotes what it calls "a strengthened rationale" for South-South Co-operation which aims at promoting development and safeguarding economic independence. The key components of this strengthened rationale include the emergence of new complimentarities among countries of the South; the availability of surplus capital in some South countries which could be profitably invested in other countries of the South; the need for joint management of natural resources and common problems such as the environment, illicit drug trafficking and harnessing science and technology in addition to the reduced need for raw materials produced by the South along with the challenge to the South by larger economic groupings in the North. In this context, Afro-Asian co-operation in industrial development based on the experiences of newly industrialising countries should be encouraged and enhanced.

Through regional co-operation and integration the African countries can constitute larger and more attractive trading and investment partners to the outside world. Quality improvement and increased cost-competitiveness can be nurtured within such regional markets that can serve as springboards to wider international markets. There can also be regional solution to infrastructure problems. Common tax and tariff structures, uniform business codes can undoubtedly enhance cross-border activities. Within the declared objectives of the African Economic Community, the fast-moving members in the different regional groupings can actively interact with each other employing what is often referred to as variable geometry. Having emphasised the imperative of regional co-operation and integration as well as the central role of South-South Co-operation we should not also lose sight of the vital role that should be played by the international community in alleviating the African plight. The international community is called upon to assist Africa in solving the thorny issue of the external indebtedness, which hinders resource flows, and stagnate any development efforts by the continent. Unfortunately, the recent creditor approach to the debt re-organisation through what is referred to as the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) fell short of making any progress because of the limited number of eligible countries as well as the conditionalities attached to it. The need is now urgent for a substantial cancellation of debt and debt service obligations. Economic security is indivisible. That is why the international community should be forthcoming in creating stronger partnership with Africa that would transcend the old donor-recipient relationship and replace it with a genuine partnership focussing on sustainable growth. To achieve a level-playing field and end the vicious circle of dependence Africa should also be assisted in the human resource development, transfer of technology and increased investments.

Diagnosing the African condition cannot be properly assessed without stressing the paramount need for maintaining and enhancing solidarity of developing countries. I referred earlier to the conviction that the uncertainties and changing scenarios should not lead us to lose faith in the imperative of such solidarity, and on this particular subject the issue of nam has been much talked about. In times when international relations is characterised by excessive militarisation as well as serious economic and political imbalances and threats of marginalisation, and in a world which is yet to be a safer place, the issue of nam assumes importance as a basic framework to co-ordinate interests and positions and as a vital carrier of South-South Co-operation. Non-alignment is indeed against polarisation of any kind and it is undoubtedly for a multi-polar world. Its essence is the autonomy of choice. Issues of development, human rights, environment, WTO related matters greatly depend on the strength and solidarity of the Movement. No democratisation of international relations can take place without the strong involvement of NAM.

Indeed, democratisation of international relations and restructuring of international relations and restructuring of the United Nations including the Security Council would be incomplete without restructuring the Bretton Woods institutions to bring them in harmony with current realities and pre-occupations, as they have definitely outlived their old mandate. Indeed the question of restructuring the Bretton Woods institutions does not only bring to the forefront the imperative of giving voice to the voiceless developing countries in the functioning of these organisations in an increasingly interdependent world but also touches essentially on the question of governing the global economy. The question of governance has assumed important proportions at the national level throughout the North-South debate but governance at the global level has so far been neglected. Not only the World Bank and the IMF but transactional corporations too should be regulated as their far-reaching impact transcends national boundaries. Bretton Woods institutions should be given developmental perspective and this is also relevant to the World Trade Organisation. As no size or prescription can fit them all, market fundamentalism alone cannot hold the answer. The question is: Can poverty, the biggest challenge in Africa, be eradicated only on the basis of market forces? The answer is a definite No. That is why global economic governance with certain mechanisms to ensure fair play, transparency and accountability is of vital importance and relevance. Reform in these international bodies and institutions should bring the issue of development back to the centre of the world’s attention. Indeed, in an era when the international community claims to cherish the values of equality, human rights and democracy the continuation of the imbalances and inequalities is incompatible with these universal values.

Africa in a changing world is an incomplete issue without reiterating the importance of Indo-African relations in this scheme of revitalising the African continent. It is well known that these relations which started with the dawn of history have flourished and have always been in the best interests of the Indian and the African continent. Africa and India share similar histories and legacies. The world is changing and with it both India and Africa are changing. This is why we should give these relations new dynamisms and new content. The strategic partnership between India and Africa should continue to serve the emerging challenges and in particular, the socio-economic development and the prosperity of our peoples. With their huge economic potentialities and vast resources of both regions stand to benefit. Indeed, the whole scheme of a vibrant South-South Co-operation will be an empty slogan without an enhanced co-operation between India and Africa. India can learn from various African success stories in the social and economic fields while the continent of Africa can gain from India’s experience in the sustainability of its democratic institutions, from its green revolution and food self-sufficiency, as well as from India’s achievements in Information Technology, small scale industries and pharmaceuticals.

Africa strongly believes in the dialogue among civilisations for the betterment of mankind. Africa with its deep-rooted traditions of tolerance with the values of collaboration and togetherness, built in its cultures and societies and its contribution to human civilisation is indeed for co-operation and not confrontation. For Africa, which has been a victim of slavery, colonialism, neo-colonisation, Apartheid and two World Wars, history and geography have not ended. They have just begun.

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Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohammad is the Ambassador of Sudan to India.

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The United Service Institution of India (USI) and Fair Observer present a panel discussion on the evolving geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific region. Lately, the AUKUS Deal has added another twist to th…

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STRIVE a Lucknow based National and Defence Security Studies Centre organised a Webinar in collaboration with Military Literature Festival, Lucknow on a highly sensitive and contemporary issue the “B…

Can India and Pakistan Take Steps Towards Rapprochement

In this episode Major General BK Sharma (Director - United Service Institution of India) and Lt. General Asad Durrani (Former Director General ISI, Pakistan talks with Analyst Arvind Saharan on Indi…

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Over the past few decades, inter-state conflicts waned but there has been an increase in Intra-state conflicts. In any conflict, the innocent civilians are the ones who suffer the most. But the suffer…

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Valedictory Address by CDS General Bipin Rawat PVSM UYSM AVSM YSM SM VSM ADC The original video of the event can be accessed on the VoW youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF2clqxX_j8&…

Managing Future Conflicts Deterrence and Conflict Prevention: Valley of Words 2021

Major General Dhruv C Katoch, SM, VSM (Retd) in conversation Lieutenant General JS Lidder, UYSM, AVSM (Retd), Ambassador Asoke Mukerji, Shri Arvind Gupta and Lt Gen Prakash Menon PVSM, AVSM, VSM [Retd…

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