Development can only take place in a safe and secure environment, Singh said
Reiterating India’s commitment to provide support in all defence related matters to partner countries in Africa, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday signalled a strong intent to continue working with African nations to promote regional security and stability.

Addressing the first edition of the India-Africa Army Chiefs’ Conclave organised on the sidelines of 2nd Africa-India Joint Exercise ‘AFINDEX’ in Pune, Maharashtra, Defence Minister Singh said this included support for the capability enhancement of their armed forces. The full potential of a nation’s progress can be realised only when its security is ensured, he added.

The Conclave was attended by Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande and Chiefs & representatives of 31 African nations, along with other civil and defence dignitaries.

“We believe that preservation of individual human rights such as the right to life and personal liberty, right to employment, right to livelihood, etc. are dependent on a strong and effective state apparatus which can ensure the Rule of Law as well as promote economic growth & social development,” the Defence Minister said.

He went on to explain that development can only take place in a safe and secure environment. “Though many of us have come a long way since our independence, there are many African countries where the capacity building of state systems is still a work in progress,” Defence Minister Singh remarked.

In this context, he described capacity building in terms of defence equipment and platforms as another critical aspect of India’s military cooperation with its Africa partners. He invited the African countries to explore Indian defence equipment and technologies to fulfil their security needs.

“India has emerged as a leading defence exporter in recent years. A defence manufacturing ecosystem has been created here which has the advantage of abundant technical manpower. The Indian defence industry can work with you to fulfil your defence requirements. With the aim to empower our African friends to indigenously meet their defence requirements, we are also committed to sharing our expertise and knowledge in defence manufacturing, research and development,” he said.

During his address, Defence Minister Singh added that the Joint Exercises between India and African nations provide an excellent opportunity for the Armed Forces to learn from each other and promote interoperability. He termed ‘AFINDEX’ as a reflection of India’s continued focus on African nations to develop capacities and enhance mutual capabilities.

“As maritime neighbours linked by the Indian Ocean, our cooperation in maritime security & hydrography and countering terrorism & extremism will be essential for regional peace and prosperity,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Defence, India has been at the forefront of providing training to the Armed Forces of African nations and equipping them with necessary skills to face the security challenges of the 21st century.

The training programmes cover a wide range of areas, including counter-insurgency operations, peacekeeping, maritime security and specialised training in new domains such as cyber warfare and drone operations. It also encompasses training civilians in areas such as disaster management, humanitarian aid and medical assistance. A large number of African Countries’ Armed Forces personnel continue to visit India for training in different areas, the ministry added.

The India-Africa Army Chiefs’ Conclave was structured on the central theme of ‘Africa-India Militaries for Regional Unity – AMRUT’. It was aimed to strengthen and improve synergy between the militaries of India and African nations as part of a regional cooperation mechanism.

The Conclave focussed on joint training and defence cooperation amongst the nations to evolve an institutionalised framework in order to enhance collaboration in the fields of joint military training, execution of peacekeeping operations; besides promoting Indian defence industries. It is a major landmark in deep-rooted defence ties between India and African nations, thereby enhancing regional cooperation.