India hosted the first India-Africa defence conclave in Lucknow on Friday during the 11th edition of Defence Expo 2020, in which Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his counterparts from 12 African countries, besides meeting heads of the delegations from 38 other African nations. Fifty African nations signed a declaration with India at the conclave, organised during the biennial defence exhibition.
What is Lucknow Declaration?
The Lucknow Declaration is signed by the defence ministers and representatives of 50 African countries with Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh to recognise common security challenges such as terrorism, extremism, piracy and trafficking. Besides that, the agreement aims to increase cooperation in securing sea lines of communication, preventing maritime crimes, disaster, piracy, illegal fishing through the sharing of information and other measures.
Under this agreement, India will provide Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), Fast Interceptor Boats, body and vehicle armour, Night Vision Goggles (NVGs), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Dornier aircraft, and arms and ammunition to African counterparts.
Why African nations are important to India?
The African sub-continent is crucial as it comprises 54 countries facing similar challenges like terrorism, extremism, piracy and trafficking as India. In the perspective of geopolitics, having these 54 African nations as allies in the United Nations is favourable to India as these nations might support in passing any resolution. Defence minister Rajnath Singh also tweeted, "The Declaration calls for strengthening the UN Counter-Terrorism mechanisms and ensure strict compliance with the UNSC sanctions regime on terrorism. It also urged the international community to envisage the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in UNGA."
In fact, India helped several African countries to develop their defence system to fight against terrorist groups like Boko Haram and Al-Shabab.
These countries also share ancient maritime links and our colonial past with India. Apart from that African subcontinent provides a good market for Indian companies of different sectors whether it is automobile, IT or defence sector.
India-African nations' relations:
During this conclave, these countries thanked India for defence assistance as it has contributed to nations like Tanzania, Nigeria and Ethiopia in setting up defence academies. India has deployed training teams in several African nations including Uganda, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Seychelles, Mauritius and Tanzania.
The leaders recalled provision of defence equipment and ammunitions and other measures including Defence Training Programme.
Indian defence force also provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations during cyclone IDAI in Mozambique (2019) and mass evacuation of stranded people from 41 countries in 2018. Operation Vanilla was conducted by Indian forces to aid flood-hit Madagascar.
In March 2019, Africa-India Joint Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX-19) was held. India had participated in almost all peacekeeping operations in Africa.