The agenda of the meeting is to review all the aspects of the bilateral relationship between the two countries and to also explore new avenues of taking forward the relationship.

Ahead of the India- Africa Forum Summit– IV which is expected to take place this year, external affairs minister DR S Jaishankar heads to Kenya later this week.

“Africa, will be critical to India’s growth story in the remainder of this century. Eastern Africa especially is also growing in importance as India pursues its Indo-Pacific strategy,” opines Ambassador Anil Trigunayat.

India-Africa Military & Maritime Cooperation

Military Cooperation with African nations is a very part of India’s relationship. There have been interactions with African nations during the DefExpo as well as Aero India. And the focus has been on further enhancing the military and maritime cooperation with the continent.

Importance of Maritime Cooperation

To counter China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Indian Navy has been focusing on the IOR littoral countries’ naval capabilities and security partnerships. And efforts are being made to further deepen maritime cooperation with countries like Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, and Comoros.

In addition to this, the navy is also trying to secure major maritime ‘chokepoints’ at the entrances to the Indian Ocean, and these include the Strait of Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb, and the Mozambique Channel. The African continent is already crowded with the presence of military bases of big countries like France, China, and the US.

India is looking at deepening its maritime cooperation based on the security concerns in the African waters. As has been reported earlier, in its 2015 Maritime Strategy document, India has outlined its policy towards the countries in the Western Indian Ocean region. The policy has been diversified and also expanded into a broad based security approach.

What Does This Mean?

This expansion and diversification includes transfer of naval hardware and logistical support, naval intelligence, sharing of best practices to build capacity through training, joint military exercises and patrolling of seas.

Also, setting up radars and surveillance gear for monitoring maritime communications, and developed listening stations and posts required for the monitoring stations.

India is already offering military aid, capacity building, and training assistance to the African nations and this also includes peacekeeping training as well as training in countering terrorism along with the US. Possibilities of trilateral training with France are being explored.

Countries including Mozambique, Kenya, Mauritius, Comoros, Somalia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania and Madagascar, are members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) which was established in 1997.

Expert View

“During the Pandemic as well India has rendered critical assistance both material i.e. pharma, vaccines as well as capacity building of Healthcare professionals through digital training programmes. Kenya is an important friend not only historically or strategically but during the second wave of COVID, it provided urgent assistance to India only last week. A goodwill gesture indeed,” says Ambassador Anil Trigunayat.

According to him, “Actually, one of the India funded textile mills turned out to be one of the leaders in manufacturing masks and PPE kits in Kenya for Africa. Being in the UNSC both can align their approaches on major global challenges.”

“Hence, the External Affairs Minister’s visit to Nairobi for the Joint Commission is very timely when the two sides will be able to review the whole gamut of bilateral relationship. As such after decades of ad hoc initiatives PM Modi enunciated 10 guiding principles in Kampala including Maritime security and cooperation which will be relevant for our crucial bilateral strategies,” he adds.

“Fight against COVID -19 and focused collaboration including Indian vaccine approval and manufacturing could provide another area of cooperation . As such an Indian company Dr Lal Path Labs joined more than 60 other Indian firms to stamp India’s credible presence. India and Kenya are Maritime neighbours which acquires a greater salience in the current geo political context,” he concludes.

EAM’s Visit To Kenya

Later this week, from Kuwait, the external affairs minister will be travelling to the Republic of Kenya. He will be there from June 12-14, 2021 and along with his Kenyan counterpart he will chair the 3rd meeting of the India-Kenya Joint Commission meeting.

The agenda of the meeting is to review all the aspects of the bilateral relationship between the two countries and to also explore new avenues of taking forward the relationship.