India stands with Africa, both as a matter of solidarity and strategy: S Jaishankar

India stands with Africa, both as a matter of solidarity and strategy: S Jaishankar

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External affairs minister S Jaishankar expressed India’s solidarity with Africa in Nairobi on Monday, saying the continent can count on the country’s support to raise its profile. He said the rise of modern Africa is a “long-awaited expectation” and that the decisions made by the international community will be really global only when the continent’s voice is adequately heard and reforms instituted in leading bodies like the UN Security Council.

Jaishankar said India stands with Africa, both as a matter of solidarity and strategy. “Within our capacities, we have partnered with as much a large heart as with an open mind. Your priorities guide our initiatives,” he said, subtly driving home the differences between the Indian approach and the approach of China which often dictates projects to the African states to suit its needs.

The minister made the remarks at the inauguration of the renovated Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Library in the prestigious University of Nairobi.

Jaishankar’s visit was marked by decisions to upgrade partnership in the Indo-Pacific region besides synergising counterterrorism capabilities as well as declaring support for Kenya’s priorities in infrastructure and capacity building. Kenya is playing an important role to counter Islamist terrorist groups in Eastern Africa.

China has invested heavily in Kenya, a key state in Eastern Africa along the Indian Ocean Region. It is eyeing strategically located Mombasa Port but Kenyan authorities have allayed fears of a take-over. However, India has been a traditional maritime partner for Kenya from the pre-colonial period and Kenya hosts a strong Indian diaspora.

During Jaishankar’s visit, Kenya’s “big four” agenda on manufacturing, affordable housing, universal health and food security was also discussed and the minister underlined that India will build upon its partnership taking these into account.

“The rise of modern Africa is not just a noble sentiment, it is a long-awaited expectation, even a profound calculation. It is only when this continent of more than a billion people takes its rightful place, that a full diversity of our planet will find proper expression,” said Jaishankar. “It is then that we can justifiably declare that the world is truly multipolar. Decisions made by the international community will be really global only when Africa’s voice is adequately heard. And that must happen most of all by reform in leading bodies like the UN Security Council where today India and Kenya have seats as non-permanent members for two years.”

In a post on microblogging site Twitter, Jaishankar said, “As UNSC members currently serving together, we have taken our closeness onto the larger global stage.”

India and Kenya have decided to explore further opportunities both in the government and private sector in the areas of health, environment, ICT, tourism, higher education, automotive, defence and security.

According to the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest), India is the second-largest investor in the country. More than 60 major Indian companies have invested in various sectors including manufacturing, real estate, pharmaceuticals, telecom, IT and ITES, banking and agro-based industries. Indian investments have resulted in the creation of thousands of direct jobs for Kenyans. Indian pharmaceutical companies also have a substantial presence in Kenya.

Kenya has welcomed further investments from the Indian private sector, particularly in manufacturing, agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, automobile and affordable housing. During Jaishankar’s visit the two sides agreed to explore prospects for further enhancement of cooperation in healthcare delivery.

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