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Friday, 24 December 2010 13:54

SAARC-Africa Partnership in Global Economy and Socio-Economic Transformation

Iqbal A Saradgi &   Others. Ed. 2008. SAARC: Socio-Economic Transformation. FPSD. Delhi. (PP. 155-178)

Dr. Suresh Kumar

Introduction

Globalization in economic context refers to the effects of extensive free trade among nations as well as the increase in the movement of capital and labor. Global economy promotes free trade policy has been accelerated tremendously as a result of technology revolution since 1990s. The regional integration under global economy protects individual countries interests and gives fair chances in promoting their economy. This integration may pose a possible challenge to the WTO's* objective of global free trade since technically regional trading arrangements are violation of multilateralism. It promotes intra-regional trade among the member countries encourages their economic cooperation and development.

The cost of trading across borders is one of the highest in the world for South Asia. SAARC needs to lower external trade barriers to generate real gains from trade and to lessen the chances that trade diversion will occur. South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA), a step towards SAARC economic integration came into effect on 1 January 2006, wishes to work for deeper integration for a common Customs & Economic Union working under global economy. This regional integration is a welcome step toward economic growth. SAARC acknowledged poverty, underdevelopment, low levels of production, unemployment and pressure of population compounded by exploitation of the past and other adverse legacies on the one hand and trust region common values rooted in their social, ethnic, cultural and historical traditions on the other hand in Dhaka Declaration of 8th December 1985. Today, SAARC consists of eight members such as Afghanistan. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka having six observers like China, EU, Iran, Japan, South Korea and US. SAARC may invite like-minded in capacity of observers such as AU, COMESA, EAC, IBSA, IGAD, IOC-RIM, SADC and OPEC in Africa and IBSA, BRIC* and other sharing the idea of mutual partnership globally and work for the largest populated continent’s socio-economic transformation.

The global economy deals with SAARC particularly under SAFTA Agreement 2006 that declares, “Recognizing that least developed countries in the region need to be accorded special and differential treatment commensurate with their development needs; and it is necessary to progress beyond a Preferential Trading Arrangement to move towards higher levels of trade and economic cooperation in the region by removing barriers to cross-border flow of goods.” This is the beginning of global partnership and SAARC requires to be positioned with their global brothers having common colonial past and wishes to work for global socio-economic transformation on mutual understanding. The post-independent experiences working with Structural Adjustment Program and other failed development programs implemented in Africa, Central Asia, North-east Asia and Latin American countries failed to change the social and economic criteria of majority people’s. Consequently, these countries having past disastrous practice (of SAP, re-structuring plans under WB and IMF*) are striving to work for their people’s socio-economic transformation through global partnership of developing countries. Sh. Pranab Mukherjee mentions,An important aspect of economic connectivity is freer trade in the region. A smooth and complete implementation of SAFTA is therefore imperative. SAFTA can be an important instrument to deepen intra-regional trade if it is implemented in letter and spirit. Full implementation of SAFTA will catalyze other areas of economic integration, including enlarging the scope of SAFTA to services and investment’1

Socio-economic transformation and economic benefits from global partnership in economy prerequisite regional cooperation and 15th SAARC summit from 2-3 August 2008 held in Sri Lanka entails to strengthen regionalism in trade and economy keeping their political differences apart from it. The political difference needs to sort out either in the framework of SAARC ambit or international law. SAARC region economy needs collateral partnership on mutual basis among them and introduces it to the region having same historical colonial past and searching for the common allies. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, President of the Republic of Maldives, opines, “SAARC belongs to over 1.4 billion people. It is now at the threshold of a new dawn, one which opens up new vistas of cooperation, global partnerships and a more robust regional identity. It was born out of a political vision. It again needs a similar political commitment to achieve another historic change. We must embrace the concept of regionalism fully and irrevocably. A new dawn for South Asia is not only desirable. It is a necessity. South Asia must re-connect with itself, as well as with the rest of the world. Regional economic projects can identify and expand complementarities and synergies.2

Recently, India-Pakistan Soldiers Initiative for Peace (IPSI) concluded two days meeting on 11-12 May 2008 in Mumbai focuses on peace, collective security and strong economic ties. “By 2050, India would be the most populous country in the world; the third-most populous country would be Pakistan. There would be tremendous pressure on water and food resources leading to problems. In the globalize world, the trend was formation of regional groups and the two countries could become an economic and political force3 Political will on both sides requires dealing with poverty, food crisis, economic ties and human interaction. One full wagon train came from Pakistan carrying Cement bags to India as part of trade helps in checking and controlling the market inflation in India, desires more mutual partnership both sides.4 External Affairs Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, visited Pakistan on 18-19 May 2008 aiming at a bigger economic relationship on the one hand and assurance from Pakistan taking concrete action in ending cross-border terrorism and infiltration on the other hand. Dr. Manmohan Singh visited Bhutan and addressed a joint session of the first elected Parliament during his visit to Thimphu on May 16 and 17. Dr. Singh said the quantum of Indian economic engagement with Bhutan over the next five years would be Rs. 10,000 crore. This would be in the form of both direct assistance to the country’s 10th five year plan as well as for the development of mega projects in the areas of hydropower and infrastructure. 5

Need of SAARC-Africa & Issue of Global Partnership

Africa needs to be visualized as a land of opportunities, not as a lost continent. Such portrayal by the global media of the African and Asian continents has affected the global engagement of these regions in the past. It is heartening that the context is changing. Africa is moving and so is Asia. What is most significant is that the process of change has created new complementarities, which is reflected in the rising volumes of trade and investment.

Africa is looking forward towards this region particularly in agriculture, biotechnology, education & skill development, health, human resource development, infrastructure, information and communication technology, minerals, oil and gas, small & medium scale enterprises, tourism, etc. Developing infrastructure in the areas of railways, IT, telecom and power generation and physical connectivity in Africa would be a priority. Africa strengthens economic and political foundations at regional level through organizations such as SADC, COMESA, EAC, IGAD, ECOWAS and SACU* and reinforces the continental unity through Africa Union (AU). Afro-Asia may strengthen local capabilities by creating regional and pan-African institutions as global partner and develop viabilities on socio-economic transformation.

SAARC and Africa (under their umbrella of AU along with African regional organizations) is looking for work together. This is the right time accelerating economic development and forging new linkages uniting Afro-Asian region. Both the regions have individual and regional strengths, their potential as a huge market, their substantial human and natural resources and the complementarities of their economies. This alliance could make optimum use of these capacities for the benefit of their peoples, accelerate the pace of their economic development and enhance their national and collective self-reliance. This alliance will effectively deal the global issues such as poverty alleviation, food security, health security, global terrorism and pandemics and climates change without including Africa prominently in a cooperative global mechanism. Dr. Manmohan Singh says, “Africa is our mother continent. The dynamics of geology may have led our lands to drift apart, but history, culture, and the processes of post-colonial development have brought us together once again. Our shared vision of the world should enable us to work together on the vital challenges facing humanity. We have coordinated our position in the United Nations and other international forums. No one understands better than India and Africa imperative need for global institutions to reflect current realities and to build a more equitable global economy and polity. Working together, the two billion people of India and Africa can set an example of fruitful cooperation in the developing world.6

Afro-Asia being developing countries shares common threat of global market. There are issues concerns such as Duty Free Preference Scheme (DFPS) and lines of credit on bilateral and organizational level. India recently announced this DFPS to all 50 least developed countries offering preferential market access for exports, 34 of which are in Africa. The DFPS scheme may develop between SAARC and Africa Union member states or other regional organizations such as EAC, COMESA, SADC, IGAD and IOC-RIM to begin with. They may promote trade activities right from small, medium and micro enterprises including public-private partnerships. Africa needs to foster human resource development and capacity building. SAARC human resource in higher education, research and development, IT and health, science & technology, agriculture and defense may happily share their experience with African brotherhood. It will build an alternative to exploitation and produce new life in the developing countries in different sectors such as

 

1.Global partnership in Agriculture Sector

The total percentage of population engaged in agriculture in Africa is 60 % and Asia 55%.7 Today, the agriculture sector faces the changing environment that demands higher food quality, productivity improvements and environment friendly agricultural methods. This sector needs sophisticated equipments for agronomy concerns optimized yield, precision farming, fuel saving, less soil compaction and safety. SAARC member states may share with African partner about quality, profitability and environmental preservation maintaining increasing yield for growing food requirement, which is the need of Africa brothers.

The population of Africa and Asia is more than two billion today. Africa needs Green revolution for achieving food security as the population will reach 1.8 billion by 2050. Table-1 highlights the Afro-Asia particulars about the irrigated land area and the potential in this sector.

Table-1 Irrigated Area Vs. Potential Agriculture land

Particulars(ha)

World

Asia

Africa

Total Area

13.4 Bn

3.1 Bn

3.0 Bn

Cultivated Area

1.5 Bn (11.3%)

560 Mn (17.6%)

200 Mn (6.6%)

Irrigated Area

277 Mn (18%)

194 Mn (34%)

13 Mn (6%)

 

Source: fao.org

 

More than 90% of agriculture in Africa is rain dependent. UN study on Asia mentions that poverty declined faster where rapid agricultural growth occurred. Urban poverty reduces when rural poverty declines. Irrigated land in India increased from 72.9 to 87.2 million hectares during in 1991 to 2007. It is thus essential to enhance irrigation facilities equipped with extensive infrastructure to fulfill the basic needs.8

The major water bodies across the African continent includes major rivers such as the Blue Nile, White Nile, Limjpopo, Niger, Volta, Senegal and Chari and lakes like Lake Chad, Victoria and Malawi. Along with it, there are 73 major rivers and Lakes, 1300 small lakes, 13 major river basins and 104 small river basins across Africa. It shows that Africa has abundance of water across the continent. Only 20% of it is required to make the continent food secure.9 Africa needs water pumping system and water management techniques from SAARC. The requirement of little training to African brothers will help installation of pumps for handling it that will change even the deserts into green areas. ‘Egypt is the example where more than 100,000 Kiriolskar pump sets are greening 200,000 ha of desert land along the Nile for the last 40 years and are in operation at more than 50 large pumping stations. These pumping systems also work in South Africa, Lesotho, Angola, Ghana, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe-making a difference in key sectors of economy.10

Asia and Africa represent undernourished population as per Food and Agriculture Organization. Asia and Africa demands 250,000 and 150,000 and they produce 300,000 and 100,000 tons respectively.11 Africa represents 13 countries out of 20 top importing countries share of total agriculture/total merchandise** and bottom 20 food importing countries include India, Botswana and South Africa. India uses its 54% of total arable land usage for agriculture highest in the world as compare to African countries of Burundi 37%, Rwanda 36% and Nigeria 31%. It needs agricultural tractors and combines machinery for the use of more arable land and improvement in production. Africa needs farm mechanization that will facilitate increase in productivity. The advantage of mechanization such as seed cum fertilizer drill facilitates seed saving, saving in fertilizer, enhancement in cropping intensity and increase in gross income and return to farmer in Africa. SAARC member states produce agricultural tractors, mould board plough, disc plough, sub soiler as primary tillage, spring loaded tillers, harrow, leveler, bund former, scraper, rotary tiller as secondary tillage, back hoe with tractor, laser grader, graders, scrapers with tractors as earth moving equipments.*** Along with it, SAARC states produce sowing machinery such as post hole digger, paddy planter, seed drill for cotton seed, seed cum fertilizer drill, potato planter and multi row vegetables planters, irrigation systems such as sprinkler systems, drip system, irrigation pumps like centrifugal pumps, stationary diesel engine driven centrifugal pumps, engine set, electric pumps and submersible pumps, sowing & harvesting machinery such as maize combine, sugar cane combine, mowers, paddy combine, reaper, wheat combine, fruits harvester, onion harvester, potato digger, cotton picker and post harvest machinery like bailer, tipping trailer, sugar cane grabber, trailer, thresher and maize Sheller.12

 

Fisheries –An Alternate Source of Food

Indian coastline with a length of 7517 km is dotted with a number of ports that were actively involved in maritime activities for nearly 3000 years and connects Asia and Africa together. India plays vital role in international as well as regional cooperation developing fisheries and other sea resources as an alternate source of food and maintains sea-diversity as part of environment conservatism. ‘India as a regional partner is assisting Myanmar in the exercise of their delineation of their continental shelf. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) shares program on ‘Oceanology & Geo-hydrates’ under Integrated Programs (ILTP) with Russia.13 Similarly, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) is developing capability of processing the availability of fish stocks, ocean state, etc. for societal and economic benefits. It identifies the potential fishing zone that beneficial to fisherman increasing their profit. ‘This mission is a part of the Common Minimum Program (CMP) of the Government of India, which is working for poverty alleviation.14 The production may increase three to six fold under fish cultivation. The intensive culture of Carp Larvae: Environmental and Nutritional Aspects,# mentions that fish cultivation on ground as an alternate source of food may increase any number of times depend upon its natural feeding (such as Carp Larvae). Dr. Jai Gopal Sharma reinvigorates that ponds and river fish cultivation using these larvae will add nutrient in food production barring use of chemical and other chemical food nutrients on the one hand and safeguards environment biodiversity on the other hand. # #

The government protects this sector from natural calamities and developed Early Warning System for Tsunami at a cost of Rs. 125 Crore in collaboration with Department of Science & Technology (DST), Department of Space (DoS) and Council of Scientific &Industrial Research (CSIR) has been set up in Hyderabad. It may further coordinate with SAARC countries. SARRC-Africa may share this technology averting natural killer Tsunami under mutual understanding and cooperation.

SAARC and Africa needs an effective approach to ensure food security, eradicating poverty, improve people’s livelihood, subsistence agriculture, fisheries and other animal resources and work for self-reliant. Both may work for sustainable development of agricultural, fisheries and animal resources with necessary support of scientific research for conservation of land and environment. Both may share their experiences and produce policy analysis, cooperation in water management, agro-infrastructure, capacity building and enhancing market opportunities for each other value added agriculture and fisheries products under global partnership, which will reinforce socio-economic transformation.

 

2. Global partnership in Industrial Sector

The partnership in industrial sector includes trade, investment and industrialization as per the requirement in the global market economy. All the activities are inter-related and cannot be seen in isolation. SAARC-Africa may collaborate in this sector that pursues the training of human resource development in this sector on the one hand and sharing and transferring technology as per the consensus in the longer term on the other hand. To begin with, SAARC and Africa understand the development of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises for a successful industrialization in longer terms. This program focuses on capacity building, promotion of joint ventures, adequate training for upgrading of hi-tech skills and promoting the export of SME products in the global market.

The industrialization in SAARC-Africa acknowledges the importance of financial sector, which include microfinance, mobilization of domestic savings, development of SAARC Stock exchanges & Pan-Africa Stock exchanges. The idea and regulation of SAARC-Pan-Africa Stock exchange may deal with one of biggest market in globe, which will strengthen the real economy in terms of South-South cooperation. South-South economic integration in development endeavors the Africa Union-SAARC market, promoting inter-regional projects and establishment of financial institutions that may connect their markets at regional as well as global level. This SAARC summit necessities to work for an Asia-Africa vision that widens the agenda of mutual interaction among diverse segments of societies and institutions, including education institutions, non-government organizations, the arts, music, literature and cinema besides business and local governments.15 Global partnership (of SAARC and Africa) recognizes the need to expand the two-way trade, greater market access and investment facilitation. Both may cooperate in technical assistance and capacity building in trade negotiations and enhancing competitiveness in the world economy under the partnership. This platform may train human resource development of Afro-Asiatic origin sharing science and technology, and a broader consensus on socio-economic development. The Asian experience will share in African countries and vice-versa lead to developing the global partnership and building civil society. It may promote continental inclusive globalization.

 

3. Global partnership in ICT Sector

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) neglect the geographical distances and crosses the physical boundaries connecting each other. ICT in SAARC-Africa may play its vital role in establishing infrastructure and invigorate socio-economic transformation. ICT may further knot the Afro-Asian economic, health, education, social and cultural bonding. ICT brings a global equalization of expectations, resulting from improvements in education, global communication and transportation that persuade Human Resource Development (HRD) efforts in Africa. Despite all the hostilities in the political arena in Africa, it can indeed work together with different countries with in region and in the world. Africa is fighting against poverty, illiteracy, war and human & natural disasters. Access to education and technology, which is considered to be the remedies to this situation, should be one of the efforts of HRD Universities and collages in various parts of countries respectively. It envisions and reaches to untapped human and natural potential and work for mutual benefit. SAARC and Africa collectively work for the African Silicon Valley and fulfill the demand of capacity building while dealing the global market and the concerned companies in their sector.

India as SAARC member may share congeniality with the other member states under Pan Africa network. It connects all African countries and shares its tele-medicine and tele-education and further working for e-commerce, e-governance, e-health, etc. ‘India’s concern addressing the growing challenges of human security, a new development paradigm is needed that puts people at the center of development, regards economic growth as a means and not an end, protects the life opportunities of future generations as well as present generations, and respects the natural systems of which all life depends. Commencing social development awareness, globalization is a complex phenomenon expressing the union of economic, political, social, and cultural factors interacting in Africa through ICT cross-geographic borders. Africa leadership feels that the telecommunications as an extension of mobile telephone services is in great demand. Expansion of fixed and mobile telephone services coupled with narrow and broadband internet access through satellite linkup, which is principally aimed at enhancing information services for education, health, economic and financial sector, banking, trade, investment, inter-link with head of states and people to people communication covers under Pan-Africa network.16 Today, the evidence is at best inconclusive on whether technology transfer contributes to growth and poverty reduction. Poverty continues to be the experience of men and women who are excluded from old and new technologies alike. There is a need to conglomerate the technology and majority of people need of safe forms of energy supply, shelter, safe water, sanitation and nourishment. SAARC-Africa region recognizes the importance of technology and initiated at grass-root level right from the secondary school system, which will analyze the specific needs of communities, the level of acceptability on the part of the community to use technology and by targeting it specifically towards the pro-poor population in order to eliminate poverty through education. Along with it, feedback such as e-mail (in their regional languages) is essential in order to gauge the impact of poverty reduction strategies on the poor. Along with it, the increased political and social consciousness in Afro-Asia region had highlighted the issues of elimination of gender-disparity and empowerment of women that are essential for their socio-economic development. Government underlined the urgency of addressing these issues through further affirmative action in this field.

Africa should develop broadband policy, can largely enhance the internet connectivity, giving the rural areas an opportunity to employ e-health, e-education, e-governance applications under Pan Africa Network, which will bridge the digital divide existing between rural and urban areas: a front for socio-economic transformation. Visual classroom and video resource centers should set up either by different education institutes or by education ministry should be adopted by every school in the village. ICT can be a very effective tool for propagation of knowledge to a large number of people. 17

4. Global Partnership in Energy Sector

Recently, an India and Iran pipeline discussion strengthens the energy policy of Pakistan and India. This pipeline may share the link with other neighbouring states in South Asia as a future plan. This sharing may use as a part of Track-II diplomacy of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in future. “Both countries have shared geopolitical interests in Afghanistan. Apart from sharing common historical bonds and people-to-people contacts with Afghanistan, India sees it as the gateway to Central Asia. Afghanistan borders Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which are intertwined with a larger Soviet-era road and rail system. This network encompasses Russia and extends into parts of Europe. Besides transit along what was once part of the ancient Silk Route, India has a major stake in ensuring that its security is not undermined by extremists concentrated along the Afghanistan-Pakistan borders. 18 India-Iran-Pakistan US$ 7 billion gas connectivity will act as regional stability for SAARC region and work as potential source of energy for the other neighboring states.

Africa Gas reserves and production are playing an important role too, with reserves representing nearly 8% of global reserves. Africa reserves-to-production ratio is among the highest in the world at the current rate of production. These reserves will last 78 years. Additional value added brings to global supply and energy security is significant. New players and producers in the market enables diversifying sources of supply, just as new consumers have brought competition in the demand side.

Similarly, SAARC-Africa combination may share energy sector and work each other as indispensable partner. “India has drawn up a road map to intensify cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector with African countries. A road map was drawn up, the contours of which envisage hydrocarbon cooperation agreements at the macro level to identify the broad areas of cooperation in the field of exploration and production and refining, stepping up crude oil imports, and exports of petro-products by India, retail marketing of fuels and lubricants by Indian companies in Africa and training of technical and managerial personnel of African nations in hydrocarbon industry management. India has been striving to acquire oil and gas blocks in various hydrocarbon-rich African countries. ONGC Videsh Ltd., the overseas arm of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp., has along with other national oil companies been bidding to buy oil and gas assets in Nigeria and other African countries," said Murli Deora, the Minister for petroleum and natural gas last November in New Delhi. 19

Today, the issue raises again and again that how Afro-Asia emerging energy partnership is part of South-South trade cooperation and not as buyer-seller terms. SAARC-Africa global partnership is talking about socio-economic transformation with in the preview of South-South cooperation. This cooperation is not only in terms of political agenda but it becomes market realism under globalization. Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Acting Deputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD observed that it has assumed critical mass size (south-south trade in fuels increased from 13% to 21% in the last decade). It is not limited to being only about buying and selling of oil and gas but is also about investment, joint-ventures, transfer of technology and value addition. There is not only competition among developing regions but instead growing complementarities. Energy sector trade is not only intra-regional but more and more inter-regional, supporting energy sector cooperation between the 'Asian drivers' and African producers. Asia (including India) and Africa may work to develop marginal markets and sources of supply for each other. They are being drawn into a relationship of closer inter-dependence. One observes that the new emerging partnership between India and Africa in the hydrocarbon sector is vital and mutually beneficial - what one in UNCTAD call 'Development Transmitting Partnership'. In the energy and hydrocarbon areas, the revenue windfalls and terms of trade gains to African oil and gas producers would not probably have been there without Chinese and Indian economies guzzling hydrocarbons to power their economic growth. In addition, Africa now has in prospect a rush of FDI in this sector from multiple suitors and the competition among them is increasing. This means better terms of trade and returns for their precious resources for Africa. Africa energy dimension is important for India's vital energy security needs. It is rightly being pursued through all possible instruments such as long-term purchasing agreements, FDI in exploration and production of oil and gas among others. I hope this conference can help to foster this new win-win partnership between India and African countries in the true spirit of what UNCTAD refers to as 'co-development. 20

This global partnership in energy sector may diminish Asia energy shortage on the one hand and foster modern ethnicity of financing, effective institutions, technology transfer and development, environment sustainability, increased local content, human resource development and employment generation for Africa on the other hand. Asia Research & Development initiatives may build consensus with African partners. Mani Shankar Aiyar spoke on Africa Day function and mentions, “India has been striving to acquire oil and gas blocks in various hydrocarbon-rich African countries. ONGC Videsh Ltd., the overseas arm of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp., has along with other national oil companies been bidding to buy oil and gas assets in Nigeria and other African countries. I would seek a relationship between India and the Africa Union that goes beyond the bilateral relationship with individual member-states of the Union, a relationship that does not recognize the colonial distinction between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. ---A world free from fear, free from hatred, and free from war, which needs Africa-Asia real solidarity.21

5. Global partnership in Tourism and Mass Communication

Tourism is an emerging sector in Afro-Asia region that require proper infrastructure to cater the domestic and international tourists. Africa Safari, Niagara fall, Pyramids, Everest peak, Union of three seas at Kanya Kumari, Thar Desert, polish tea gardens, ancient Buddhist memoirs and ancient civilization of world is well known tourist adventures in Afro-Asia regions. Tourism will promote the interaction between the Afro-Asian communities and give chances to know more about each other that develop mutual trust and teamwork. ‘Adventure tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments of international tourism. Afro-Asia represents an emerging destination for adventure tourism. This partnership should aim the potential and directions of adventure tourism.’ 22 One recent observer estimated that adventure tourism and travel and its related expenditure contributed US$220 billion annually to the United States (US) economy alone.23 Several international destinations are aggressively marketed for adventure tourism in Asia, Canada and New Zealand24 and World Bank study stated that adventure tourism products represent one potential growth pole for tourism development in several African countries. 25

Tourism needs a consistent policy of development that links the tourism & travel agencies, hotel industries, airlines and other sources of transport, is a way generating employment in both regions. It may further work for tour packages in mountaineering, scuba diving, safari, surfing, meditation and naturopathy and encourages local people of the concerned area, promoting themselves and providing opportunity in small business and employment avenues. It may promote eco-tourism of both regions that shares the concern of international eco-conservatism and prevention of eco-disaster.

The sharing of tourism promotes the mass media and communication, which bring the right information about the state and society and curb myth and rumors about Afro-Asia region. It will provide alternate source of right information and check the western media propaganda about Afro-Asia originality. Further, it may strengthen South-South building bridge and inter-link different press, radio, TV, newspaper and other sources of information. It will generate employment by providing short term training sources and introduces latest technology in this sector. The potential for Afro-Asia to boost its tourism economic base through enhanced development of adventure tourism products has already been acknowledged. 26

India’s Role under SAARC and Africa

India and Pakistan account for nearly 80% of the GDP of SAARC. Undoubtedly improvement of Indo-pak ties is crucial and establishment of democratic elected government in Pakistan will minimize the existing obstacles in the process of SAARC integration. Regional trade groupings and rise of regional economic organizations have come to stay as a hard reality and managing global economy. SAFTA wishes to materialize in the region otherwise there is a possibility of marginalization of member countries from Asian market, which are outside the group. The recent political changes in Pakistan usher a step towards economic growth in the region that facilitates the country’s economy itself.

Africa and India have historically been close allies in the struggle for independence, equality, human rights, freedom and democracy. The post independent India committed for Africa’s independence and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated School of African Studies, University of Delhi in August 6, 1955 creating awareness on Africa. Today, it develops itself as Department of African Studies and received grants in 2005 from UGC for advance research under Center for African Studies.

 

Table 2: India’s Exports to Africa-Major Destinations (US$ million)


Apr-Sept

2004

%

growth

Apr-Sept

2005

%

growth

Africa Total

2273.2

32.4

3065.5

34.9

South Africa

471.5

121.0

697.7

48.0

Nigeria

267.7

-4.1

338.3

26.4

Egypt

187.3

24.7

270.8

44.6

Kenya

197.8

111.8

213.2

7.8

Sudan

109.4

171.2

149.8

36.9

Algeria

92.8

73.9

128.3

38.3

Tanzania

79.5

8.9

94.7

19.1

Mauritius

86.0

-3.7

89.4

4.0

Cote d’Ivoire

23.4

-65.8

83.9

258.0

Ghana

77.4

38.4

80.7

4.3

Djibouti

49.9

170.3

75.9

52.1

Senegal

16.2

43.9

71.3

340.8

Benin

21.1

-13.0

63.6

201.1

Mozambique

31.7

3.4

59.3

87.3

Togo

79.1

233.2

57.7

-27.1

Libya

23.6

280.2

57.0

141.5

Morocco

51.9

23.7

53.1

2.2

Congo D R

39.8

59.8

39.3

-1.2

Source: Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence & Statistics (DGCIS) 2006.

Indian Ocean is the linkage between India and Africa. Table-2 shows India and Africa export linkages under global partnership and illustrates trade in the year 2006 gives a positive impact of the relations. India needs to re-valuate its foreign policy as member of SAARC and its coordination with Africa in the period of globalization. India’s foreign policy may reassure its role in the changing international scenario in political and economic field. The role of India in South Asia and its representation in UN dealing with the issues of international terrorism, political stability and democratic mechanism, multi-party system, human rights, and economic sharing for the sustainable development in the region needs an immediate attention in its foreign policy. One observes, “With its string of pearls strategy, China has already encircled India by assiduously forging maritime linkages with eastern Africa, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar among other countries. India has tried to counter this spreading arc of Chinese influence only in recent times by trying to build maritime bridges with countries in the IOR as well as the Asia-Pacific region.”27 These issues directly attract the attention of African countries as this continent is dealing with the same issues. India may facilitate its position and provide a platform to build linkage between SAARC and Africa. The different development plans of World Bank and IMF in Africa such as Structural Adjustment Programme and other failed to show people’s development. As a result, today African people came forward and changed their corrupted political system and adopted multi-party democratic mechanism. The change of guard from Organization of African Unity (OAU) to African Union (AU) and adoption of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in 2001 is the sign of development for the people. The world leaders are working for the debt relief and development aid to Africa. But Africa is not accepting these aids blindly and big or small countries are adopting people’s development schemes.

India’s foreign policy may focus on the untapped sea-natural resources in the Indian Ocean, a great link between Africa and Asia and work to curb hunger. India Ocean needs to develop as a hub inter-linking Afro-Asia and sharing its fisheries and other rich marine resources as an alternative food resource. This hub needs to draw a map for peace, sustainable governance and mutual economic development in this Geo-strategic region on the one hand and persuades the continental people fighting against international terrorism and their sponsors, promoting bi-lateral/multilateral/ AU-SAARC trade relations and develop a common security zone and promoting peace in the Indian Ocean on the other hand. The peaceful navigation promotes the mutual interests of SAARC and Africa, attracts the international naval couriers using secured parts in this zone for their business and trade; source of additional source of revenue to Africa-SAARC countries. The Asian Diaspora settlement in Africa is the platform working for Afro-Asian relations under SAARC-AU umbrella. The initial engagement has been beneficial in terms of deepening India’s economic and security links in Indian Ocean coordinating Island countries such as Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros and Seychelles on the one hand and strengthening its ties with Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia on the other hand. Agricultural land in Africa is untapped and undeveloped that needs skilled hands of Asian harvesters as trainer to grow food production attaining self-reliance in food.

The Indian institutions such as ASSOCHAM, CII, FICCI, EXIM (BANK), IOR-ARC, TEAM-9, Focus Africa and other are working for mutual understanding in trade, finance and industrial ventures. CII organized 1st Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership titled Expanding Horizons in New Delhi in 2005 and 4th Conclave titled Strengthening Partnership reflects strong bonding between India and Africa. The participants in this conclave was by over 600 business representatives from 33 African States, led by 35 ministers discussed more than 150 projects worth $35 billion in technology, agriculture, human resources and energy. Mr. Felix Matati, Minister for Commerce, Trade and Industry, Zambia pointed out, “African countries would prefer Indian investment as we understand each other. You have cost-effective technology, which we want. We are able to understand each other better as we are both from the south. India-Africa trade has been lacking with visibility. We want to change that.”28 These institutions regularly share their experiences with different portfolios that coordinate strengthening government’s South-South Cooperation as part of foreign policy. The mutual relations on South-South cooperation will build practical development in Africa and India, and broadly with SAARC. The 10th AU Summit focal theme was “Industrial Development of Africa”, January 2008 is the initiation of India-Africa relations, which needs to club with SAARC. The SAARC-AU understanding on industrial development including Human Resource Development by providing adequate training and short term courses is a step towards strengthening South-South cooperation mutually.

Similarly, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) shares the developmental approach with India and Indian institutional partners. SAARC-Africa bonding may usher multi-polar idea and work for political stability and economic advancement, which will cater the needs of smaller countries as well. CII, ASSOCHAM, FICCI and Federation of Indian Exporters Organization (FIEO) identified the region as a thrust area and initiated different schemes promoting economic and business cooperation.

India assists African armed forces in their capacity building, upgrading professional military institution, training to African officers under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC). Today, India provides defence cooperation in Cameroon, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Madagascar, Nigeria, South Africa and Seychelles.

Delhi Declaration mentions, “The international community is today addressing a series of critical issues such as environmental degradation, including climate change and desertification, multilateral trade negotiations, reform and democratization of international institutions, particularly the United Nations and Breton Woods Institutions, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the fight against terrorism, combating illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, non-proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, the fight against drugs and most importantly, promotion of pluralism and democracy, the pursuit of sustainable development underpinned by social justice, eradication of hunger, poverty as well as combating diseases. Africa and India reiterate their intention to ensure that in all these matters, the interests of developing countries are kept uppermost and the socio-economic developmental requirements of our countries are guaranteed.” 29

Global Partnership and Socio-Economic Transformation

The population in the SAARC-Africa region lives below poverty line and there is no guarantee of social security. The fast urbanization concerns both Asia and Africa, require to work collectively in the implementation of Millennium Development Goals, concretizing poverty alleviation methodology, business policies that generate employment, implement the shared social security system and generate rural sector employment through agro-industries, SMEs, poly-technique schools and colleges.

The people of Afro-Asia being developing countries come together through mutual interest uphold equality and fraternity. This combination works for self-reliant economy in longer terms. Both can share their capabilities and develop mutual capacities based on it that fight against the challenges of poverty, food crisis & security, international terrorism, upgrading energy security and strengthening people’s democracy and multi party system.

Asia and Africa are the victims of international terrorism. On the name of it, the so-called war against terror for monopoly-terror resulted suffers, pain and anguish among the masses. “Ironically, the victims of this construct are Asia (India) and countries from Africa. Interventions on the pretext of security are the sharpening local discontents and jeopardizing the prospects of peace. Such interventions could be deterred only if societies are empowered. The 15th SAARC Summit in Sri Lanka on August 2-3, 2008 needs to look into the processes of mutual empowerment. This would mean taking Asia-Africa relations to areas where interaction is the lowest, i.e. engagement at the community level.” 30 It is feasible through people to people contact, in general and intellectual/academic in particular. Asia and Africa inter-university memorandum of understanding and cultural exchange program will strengthen mutual interaction and empower this combination in all international forums including UN. This exchange Programme deepen the historical relations among themselves, encourages the renowned scholars, writers, scientists, poets, painters, film industry, cultural art troupes, media industry and sports personalities to share their commonalities and strengthen the real South-South cooperation.

The multi-ethnic society of Afro-Asia needs a balanced development. The regionalism needs to broaden in the global world, which will help Afro-Asian societies working together with mutual understanding and not through imposition. The people to people interaction will mitigate the extremist ideology of war and crime on the name of terrorism, democratic governance, human rights, etc. These issues are no more national or regional in character, this SAARC-Africa combination will break the self-made isolation and deal united during the next 15th SAARC Summit of Sri Lanka on August 2-3, 2008. The mutual interaction and contact will handle ethnic tension and conflicts successively. “India and Africa Forum Summit may not be expected to address such issues directly but could make it part of the Afro-Asian dialogue. It is from these public dialogues across borders that imaginative ways of conflict resolution would emerge. This will make foreign policy agendas innovative and relevant.”31 The social development in education sector is vital to persuade the socio-economic transformation. People’s education is the key factor that motivates Afro-Asian countries to go for universal education. It is the time sharing their experiences on education policies, offering scholarships, providing reading materials, invitations for distance education through Open Universities, interacting student and teachers through cultural exchange programmes, invitations to scientific laboratories, arranging orientation course and vocational education as part of Afro-Asia bonding.

SAARC-Africa is facing the challenge of potable water, basic sanitation, poor hygiene and environmental sanitation. It needs investment in sanitation infrastructure dealing with the slums and shanty towns, waste management and technology of water treatment for potable water. The health sector is again equally important for both the regions. SAARC-Africa cooperation may build in upgrading and sharing healthcare systems, increasing access to both regions and promoting their traditional healthcare methods. Afro-Asia composes hub of herbal medicinal knowledge that is commonly in use. The herbal science and its methodology may work as linkage for centers of excellence and develop research & training institutes accordingly. SAARC-Africa may enhance telemedicine infrastructure and technology enabling quality medical services to the needy communities. Both may cooperate fighting against the ongoing HIV/AIDS threat, TB, Malaria and communicable diseases that persuade them working for socio-economic transformation.

Conclusion

International politics is looking all sorts of efforts done in Afro-Asia combination. Internationally, the issue of individual countries such as Iraq, Israeli-Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Morocco, Rwanda and Burundi are having different perceptions. Afro-Asia directly concerns with number of issues such as issue of terrorism, nuclear proliferation, human rights abuses and atrocities, global trade, climate change, pandemics and poverty, UN restructuring, US military presence under UN in Africa, Middle East, Asia & other parts of world and China dozens of strategic nuclear submarines armed with long range missiles including Ballistic one in the Indian Ocean Region. This is another perspective of emerging SAARC-Africa relations that needs mutual understanding dealing international deterrence. International terrorism will curb only through people’s development and SAFTA is a process for free trade in the region, inter-regional and global economy and needs its implementation in right spirit. Global partnership primarily a step towards development and mingling the common idea of mutual progress and prosperity, which will facilitate the way towards mutual Afro-Asia socio-economic transformation favoring common people’s growth.

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Notes

AU-Africa Union, BRIC- Brazil, Russia, India and China, COMESA- Common market of Eastern and Southern Africa, EAC- East Africa Community, IGAD- Inter-Governmental Authority of Development, IBSA- India Brazil and South Africa, IGAD- India, Brazil and South Africa IMF- International Monetary Fund, IOC-RIM- Indian Ocean Countries, OPEC- Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries SACU- South Africa Custom Union, SADC- Southern Africa Development Community, WB- World Bank, WTO- World Trade Organization

1.* Djibouti, Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin, Congo, Cape Verde, Eritrea, Senegal, Liberia, Angola and Niger.

2.*** Escorts, Sonalika, Eischer, etc. are the largest producers of Agricultural equipments in SAARC Countries.

3.# Intensive culture of Carp Larvae environmental and nutritional aspects is a doctoral thesis of Dr. Jai Gopal Sharma in Department of Zoology, University of Delhi. The scholar further pursues its program as part of Post-Doctoral in, Kyoto University, Japan.

4.# # Dr. Jai Gopal Sharma works as Scientist-C, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India.

 

1. References

2. Second SAARC Business Leaders’ Conclave in Mumbai, 17 .02.2007.

3. Inaugural Session of the Fourteenth SAARC Summit, New Delhi, India, Tuesday, 3 April 2007: emphasis mine.

4. The Hindu, May 12, 2008, Delhi.

5. DD National, 14 May 2008: emphasis mine.

6. The Hindu, May 18, 2008, Delhi: emphasis mine.

7. Opening Address by Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, India Africa Forum Summit, New Delhi, 8 April 2008.

8. Improving Farm Productivity through Agro Machinery, Escorts Limited, 2008.

9. Food Security in Africa Through Water Management, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd, April 9, 2008: 3-6: emphasis mine.

10. Ibid: 8.

11. Ibid: 14-15.

12. Food and Agriculture Organization STAT: 2003 & FAO: 2002.

13. Escorts Limited, Faridabad, 2008: emphasis mine.

14. Annual Report, Ministry of Earth Sciences, 2007-08, Government of India: 139-40.

15. Ibid: 24: emphasis mine.

16. Africa Quarterly, Vol. 48, No.1, Feb-April 2008: 21: emphasis mine.

17. Suresh Kumar, “Wiring Africa to the World, Transferring Technology and Pan-Africa Network”, Africa Quarterly, Vol. 48, No.1, Feb-April 2008: 50: emphasis mine.

18. Ibid: 58: emphasis mine).

19. Tehran Times: Thursday, May 8, 2008 India and Iran looking beyond energy.

20. United Press International, Cooperation between the two sides was agreed upon at the first India-Africa Hydrocarbon Cooperation Conference and Exhibition, New Delhi: March 6, 2008.

21. India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference & Exhibition, FICCI, November 6-7, 2007, New Delhi.

22. Africa Quarterly, Vol. 48, No.1, Feb-April 2008: 28-29.

23. Christian M. Rogerson, The Challenges of Developing Adventure tourism in South Africa, Africa Insight, Vol. 37 (2) June 2007: 228.

24. C I Cater, “Playing with Risk?: Participant Perceptions of Risk manangemkent Implications in Adventure Tourism”, Tourism Management, Vol. 27: 2006: 317.

25. D Zurick, “Adventure Travel ad Sustainable Tourism in the Peripheral Econmy of Nepal”, Annals of the Association of American Geopgraphers, Vol. 82: 1992. C S Silori, “Socio-economic and Ecological Consequences of the Ban on Adventure Tourism in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, Weastern Himalaya, Biodiversity and Conservation, Vol. 13:2004.

26. I T Christie and D E Crompton, Tourism in Africa, Washington DC: World Bank Africa region Working Paper Series No. 12:5.

27. Africa Insight, Vol. 37 (2) June 2007: emphasis mine.

28. Rajat Pandit, Times of India, May 3, 2008.

29. Africa Quarterly, Vol. 48, No.1, Feb-April 2008: 70.

30. Delhi Declaration, India-Africa Forum Summit, New Delhi, 8-9 April 2008.

31. Africa Quarterly, Vol. 48, No.1, Feb-April 2008: 27: emphasis mine.

32. Ibid.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 November 2013 05:42