Indian Navy Warship INS Kolkata arrives at Hamad Port, Doha Qatar

New Delhi aims to strengthen its partnership with Africa, particularly in the areas of defence and maritime. In recent years, India's interactions with African countries have experienced substantial growth.

The Indian Navy has initiated its second anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Guinea situated along the Atlantic Ocean on Africa's western coastline, as per a statement from the defence ministry on Thursday.

The ongoing deployment of INS Sumedha patrolling vessel in the crucial region is part of Indian Navy's 31-day "extended-range operational deployment" along Africa, the Navy said in a statement.

"INS Sumedha’s deployment has also ensured enhancing Navy-to-Navy connect with regional navies, including with those of Senegal, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Angola and Namibia," the statement read.

The Indian defence ministry expressed confidence that the deployment would further boost the capability of regional partners through “joint training” with the navies of African states.

"The maiden Gulf of Guinea anti-piracy patrol was undertaken by INS Tarkash in September-October this year,” the Indian statement noted.

The region around Gulf of Guinea is deemed critical by India’s security establishment as it is an important source of country’s energy requirements, New Delhi has underlined.

According to official Indian figures, New Delhi ranks among the top five trading partners of Africa, with bilateral trade amounting to around $11.8 billion in 2022-23. Crude oil and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports from Nigeria form a crucial share of the trade basket between the two countries.