New Delhi (NVI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today said that India is ready to take defence engagements with African countries to next level and is seeking deeper cooperation in various sectors including combating terrorism and extremism, cyberspace security and supporting the UN in peacekeeping operations.
Addressing the India-Africa Defence Ministers Conclave in Lucknow on the sidelines of DefExpo 2020 today, the Defence Minister said that India is an all-weather friend of Africa. He added that Africa is at the top of India’s priorities.
“New Delhi is looking forward to deeper cooperation in the domain of defence industry including through investment, joint ventures in defence equipment, software, digital defence, research and development, provisioning of defence equipment, spares and their maintenance,” he said.
Singh further said, “Our partnership with Africa is an open partnership with all the possibilities and avenues for collaboration from our side being open to you to choose from and decide as per your priorities.”
He also said that India is prepared to supply Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), Fast Interceptor Boats, body and vehicle armour, night-vision goggles (NVGs), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Dornier aircraft, and arms and ammunition to African nations.
Reiterating that the guiding principles given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for India’s engagement with Africa has deepened economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours, Singh said that maritime security in the region is a matter of common interest for both sides.
This is highlighted by the emphasis on SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) for the Indo-Pacific region by the government.
India’s security relations with Africa have centred on providing training to African Service personnel, participation in United Nations peacekeeping efforts on the continent and maritime cooperation.
Stressing on the safe secure seas a pre-requisite for the development of Blue economy in the region, he called for stronger partnerships for capacity building, information sharing and surveillance.
With its increased engagement in the region, India has been the first responders in providing humanitarian assistance in times of crisis like cyclone Idai in Mozambique and more recently, cyclone Diane in Madagascar.