The exercise will showcase new-generation defence equipment manufactured in India

India is set to host a nine-day military exercise with over 20 African nations, with the aim of boosting overall cooperation between the countries.

The Africa-India Field Training Exercise, AFINDEX-23, will take place at Aundh Military Station, Pune from March 21. It will involve the participation of new generation equipment manufactured in India, showcasing the country's defense manufacturing capabilities.

The exercise comes amid China's ongoing efforts to expand its strategic influence in the African continent. Right now, 22 countries have confirmed their participation in the military exercise, with nine of them sending their personnel. The countries sending their personnel include Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Niger, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

India has also decided to increase the number of courses for African nations to 450, almost double compared to last year, with various skill-building modules and tailor-made capsules being offered based on requirements.

The exercise involving the countries in the African continent will be the second such military game being hosted by India; the first Africa-India field training exercise was held in Pune in March 2019. India has been ramping up its defence and strategic ties with the African continent in recent years, in response to China's growing attempts to expand its influence over the countries.

The AFINDEX exercise will be divided into four phases, beginning with training for participating personnel, followed by a humanitarian mine action and peacekeeping operations phase. The exercise will culminate with a validation exercise on March 29, which will be witnessed by the chiefs of the African armies.

On the sidelines of the exercise, the Indian Army is set to host the first India-Africa Chiefs Conclave on March 28, with the aim of providing a fillip to cooperation between the Indian Army and the armies of African nations.

The army chiefs of 10 African countries, including Congo, Niger, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda, Seychelles, Gambia, Tanzania, and Kenya, will attend the conclave, while military heads of 12 nations will send their representatives. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is also set to attend the conclave and deliver an address.

Additionally, the Army Design Bureau (ADB), Indian Army and FICCI will jointly organize an 'Equipment Display' on March 29 - 30, at Aundh Military Station, Pune. The event will showcase Indian defence industry capability and enable exports to these friendly nations opportunities.