“During India’s ongoing G20 Presidency, participation from Africa is the highest ever,” stated the Permanent Representative of India to the UN, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj. The Ambassador pointed this out while she was addressing the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development 2023.
The G20’s focus on Africa has been consistent in recent years. However, India’s G20 Presidency is very unique given India’s track record of amplifying the voice and concerns of the Global South and developing countries. Additionally, the numerous G20 meetings being held in India are also striving to address the challenges of Global South and the world in general. India, with its ‘Voice of the Global South Summit’ and other measures, has managed to provide a larger representation of the issues, concerns, and aspirations of the African region.
The Voice of the Global South Summit, which managed to bring together 125 countries of the Global South, was an important event aimed at involving countries that are not part of the G20 but their concerns and aspirations needed to be addressed. The summit sent out an important message about India’s commitment to inclusiveness and the guiding principle of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”- “One Earth, One Family, One Future.” India’s priorities, such as inclusive digital infrastructure and climate change, and the various issues it is deliberating, such as multilateral reforms, food and energy security, counter- terrorism, new and emerging threats, global skill mapping, and disaster risk reduction, among others, are of particular interest for the African region.
Notably, the developments undertaken in the health and education domains by the G20 are also significant for African nations. Prioritising reforms of multilateral development banks is yet another issue that is crucial for India and the Global South. Further, as said by Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, “Digital technology can be a key tool for inclusion, advance governance, better service delivery and promote inclusion of all sections of society.” The G20 has been working on Digital Public Infrastructure and Digital Skilling as key priority areas.
Africa represents the voice of around 1.37 billion people, and leaving them out of the decision-making table is one way or another detrimental to global sustainable economic growth.
Thriving partnership and shared strong civilizational and historical links
India and Africa have had a long and thriving partnership and shared strong civilizational and historical links. Anti-colonial solidarity, diasporic goodwill, and the principle of ‘South-South’ cooperation, among others, are also playing a significant role in strengthening the partnership between India and the African continent.
The statement made by EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar that India believes Africa’s growth and progress is intrinsic to global rebalancing itself justifies that African development is significant for India’s Foreign Policy.
Notably, India’s engagement with Africa has been consistent and regular in recent years. India allocated Rs 250 Crore for African countries in its Budget 2023-24. Further, India’s bilateral trade with Africa is around USD 89.5 billion in 2021–22, and its cumulative investments are USD 73.9 billion from 1996-2021, thereby making India among the top five investors in Africa.