Focus on Africa, the heart of the Global South

Prelims level : International Relations Mains level : GS-II International Relations | Bilateral, regional, and global groupings and agreements involving India’s interests.
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Why in News?

  • India is willing to be remembered as the voice of the Global South, during its G20 presidency. 
  • It should be noted that the heart of Global South is Africa with the majority of the 54 countries being either developing or least developed. 
  • It is thus important to grasp the mood and changes in Africa, especially in its external partnerships. 

Washington Summit:

  • The second U.S.-Africa summit was organized in Washington from 13 to 15 December 2022. The summit was attended by the leaders of 49 countries and the chair of the African Union (AU). 
  • U.S. President Joe Biden discussed several aspects of political, security, and economic cooperation. Other deliberations were held on issues like the ways to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and future pandemics, climate crisis, food security, and diasporic ties. 
  • It was declared during the summit that African voices, leadership, and innovation are crucial to addressing the global challenge and realizing the vision of a free, open, prosperous, and secure world. 
  • The U.S. President stressed that the US is “all in on Africa and all in with Africa”.

Important decisions taken during the summit are: 

  • The U.S. declared its support for the AU to join the G20 as a permanent member. 
  • It was further highlighted by the U.S. that it “fully supports” reforming the UN Security Council (UNSC) to include permanent representation for Africa. 
  • It has also been promised that the president and the vice president of the U.S. would visit Africa shortly. It should be noted that no U.S. president visited Africa since 2015.
  • The U.S. has also announced new investments comprising:
  • $21 billion to the International Monetary Fund for providing the necessary funding to low-and middle-income countries
  • $10 million for a pilot programme to boost the security capacity in Africa 
  • The U.S. administration is planning to invest $55 billion in Africa over the next three years.
  • It is analyzed that the first assurance would be implementable once both the U.S. and India overcome the likely resistance from the ASEAN and European Union. However, UNSC reform is still a distant future.

China Challenge:

  • China became the largest trading partner and the fourth largest investor in the African continent, ahead of the U.S., due to its consistent diplomacy and extensive economic engagement. 
  • The U.S.-Africa trade stood at $44.9 billion in 2021, whereas China-Africa trade exchanges were somewhere near $254 billion. Moreover, the U.S. investment stock in Sub-Saharan Africa was $30.31 billion in contrast to China’s total investment of $43.4 billion in 2020.
  • The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was set up in October 2000. 
  • The FOCAC is composed of ministers/leaders from both Africa and China who meet once in three years. The Chinese president participates either in person or digitally. 
  • China has established a full-fledged inter-ministerial mechanism to ensure the timely implementation of FOCAC decisions. 
  • The last meeting of the forum was held in Dakar in 2021, where support was extended for the Chinese agenda of the One-China Principle, the Global Development Initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the vision of “a community with a shared future.”
  • Moreover, for years, the Chinese foreign minister begins his annual series of foreign visits by travelling to Africa. 
  • Just before the Washington summit, the U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary highlighted that the U.S. had fallen behind China in terms of trade with Africa. 
  • African leaders have reiterated multiple times that they don’t want to choose and are willing to work with the U.S., China, and all other partners.

India-Africa Relations:

  • India has worked hard in the last two decades to strengthen its political and economic partnership with Africa at the continental, regional and bilateral levels. 
  • A special momentum was created by organizing high-level exchanges and forging cooperation initiatives during the period of 2015-19.
  • However several factors like COVID-19, the economic downturn, the war in Ukraine, and the border conflict with China have resulted in a slowdown. 
  • The G20 presidency is a unique opportunity for India to ensure that the AU becomes a permanent member of this grouping and to reflect Africa’s Agenda 2063 for development. 
  • Additionally, India and the U.S. should collaborate in Africa. 
  • The fourth India-Africa Forum Summit should also be organized in early 2024 as the third summit was held long back in 2015.
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