INDIA: Boost to Africa partnerships

India has announced initiatives to enhance its higher education and research partnerships with Africa - including thousands of scholarships for African students, US$700 million to establish new institutions and training programmes in consultation with the African Union, and the offer of US$5 billion in credit over three years towards achieving development goals.

This was outlined in the Addis Ababa declaration and the Africa-India framework for enhanced cooperation, announced at the second India-Africa Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last month under the theme Enhancing partnership: Shared vision.

"India is committed to substantially contribute to building African capacities through supporting education and capacity building institutions and in enhancing value addition and processing of raw materials in Africa," the declaration stated.

At the opening plenary session of the summit, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh revealed a number of .pdf style=original]initiatives. Noting the historic nature of the gathering - this being the first time the leaders of India and Africa were meeting on such a scale on African soil - Singh said India was considering establishing an India-Africa virtual university to meet some of the African demand for higher studies. Under the proposed university, 10,000 new scholarships would be available for African students.

Singh also announced an increase in the number of graduate and postgraduate scholarships to be offered to African students: "We would like to make education in India an enriching experience for each student who comes from Africa. Our total commitment for the next three years by way of scholarships to African students will stand at more than 22,000.We will offer an additional US$700 million to establish new institutions and training programmes in consultation with the African Union and its institutions."

He also offered US$5 billion for the next three years under lines of credit to help Africa achieve its development goals and proposed the establishment of institutes for English language training, information technology, entrepreneurship development and vocational training.

As well, he suggested setting up an India-Africa centre for medium-range weather forecasting to harness satellite technology for the agriculture and fisheries sectors; and an India-Africa institute of agriculture and rural development. The Prime Minister added that his country would be willing to support the establishment of an India-Africa University for Life and Earth Sciences.

"As part of our new initiatives in the social and economic sectors, we will establish rural technology parks, food testing laboratories, food processing business incubation centres and centres on geo-informatics applications and rural development," Singh said.

In terms of relationships with the regional economic communities, Singh said India would work with them to establish soil, water and tissue testing laboratories; regional agricultural science centres; seed production-cum-demonstration centres; and material testing laboratories for highways.

According to the framework, initiatives to enhance linkages between scientific institutions in Africa and India will be undertaken and training on health-related issues such as HIV, TB and malaria will be explored. And an African-Indian Science and Technology Conference will be organised.

India and Africa have also agreed to cooperate on the environment, including management of natural disasters, combating desertification and support for Africa's Great Green Wall project.

Chair of the African Union Commission Dr Jean Ping announced the signing of India-Africa agreements to establish vocational training and incubation centres across the African continent, and the creation of the India-Africa Institute of Information Technology in Ghana and the India-Africa Institute of Educational Planning in Burundi.

The third Africa-India Forum Summit, to be held in 2014, will be hosted in New Delhi, India.