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India seeks to woo African countries with its defence capabilities


The Army Chiefs Conclave in Pune was attended by representatives of 31 African nations including army chiefs of ten African countries. (Photo: Indian MoD/ Twitter)

PUNE (PTI): India on Tuesday sought to pitch itself as a leading defence exporter for African countries with both Army Chief Manoj Pande and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh seeking to woo them.

At the Army Chiefs Conclave in Pune, attended by representatives of 31 African nations including army chiefs of ten African countries, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India will continue to work with African nations to promote regional security, foster stability and enhance the defence capabilities together.

The conclave also had sessions on Indian defence industry and how it can contribute to African countries' security and meet their aspirations.

Singh described capacity building in terms of defence equipment and platforms as another critical aspect of India's military cooperation with its African partners.

The Minister invited 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 in India which has the advantage of having abundant technical manpower at its disposal, he added.

“The Indian defence industry can work with you to fulfil your defence requirements,” Singh said at the conclave.

“With the aim to empower African partner nations to indigenously meet their defence requirements, India is committed to sharing its expertise and knowledge in defence manufacturing, research and development," the Defence Minister added.

Lt Gen James Mugira, representative of the Chief of Defence Forces of Uganda, said defence and security cooperation between India and Africa remains an area that has not been fully exploited and it should be given priority.

He emphasised technology transfer to African nations and setting up of manufacturing plants in the continent.

“We, however, strongly feel that Africa needs to be taught how to fish and not to be given fish,” Mugira said at the conclave.

On his part, Pande stressed that the Indian defence industry can contribute towards building the capacity of African defence industries so as to create opportunities for Indian companies to expand their reach in the region.

“Collaborative approach in defence manufacturing will be a win-win situation for India-Africa cooperation,” he said.

India is today the fifth largest economy in the world and it is confident of becoming the third largest economy in the next five years. Indian defence manufacturing industry is expected to be the key drivers of its fast growing economy, Army Chief General Manoj Pande said.

“We therefore aim to nurture a vibrant and world-class defence manufacturing industry in the country. To achieve this goal, our government has undertaken far-reaching reforms in last few years, aimed to create a business-friendly environment.

“Indian defence industries have made major strides in enhancing their capabilities,” he said.

Mugira said the Indian defence industry is no doubt one of the largest defence complexes in the world and is now moving towards becoming a major exporter of defence products.

“Africa will no doubt continue to play a crucial role in providing the market. Indeed, Indian-manufactured defence equipment for the army, navy and air force are clearly visible on the African market,” he said.

The Indian defence industry has the potential and expertise to make significant contribution towards the African security paradigm, particularly in the field of technology transfer, he said.

If technology remains a monopoly of one side, and the other side is to forever remain a consumer, then you cannot call it cooperation, Mugira noted.

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