INDIA IS SET to host the first-ever India-Africa Army Chiefs Conclave on March 28, as well as a nine-day military exercise with African militaries beginning March 21, in Pune, expanding India’s outreach to African nations in the face of China’s growing influence on the continent, senior Army officers said on Friday.
As many as 22 Army Chiefs and representatives of African Army Chiefs have confirmed their attendance at the conference, which Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande will host. The conclave will also include senior service officers and officials from the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs.
Congo, Niger, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda, Seychelles, Gambia, Tanzania, and Kenya have all confirmed their participation. The conclave will also include representatives from the military heads of 12 nations.
The second edition of the Africa-India Exercise (AFINDEX-2023), which will include contingents from over 20 countries, will occur between March 21 and 29. On the final day of the exercise, a display of indigenous military equipment and platforms would be held to showcase India’s manufacturing capabilities to African delegates.
According to army officers, the number of participants in the conclave and military exercises may increase. The military drill has been invited to 54 African countries in India.
They stated that the initiative’s goal is to expand on previous efforts to promote India-Africa relations, with a focus on strengthening peace and security and generating chances to share ideas and viewpoints.
“Among the objectives are learning from African experience in cooperative security, management of security crisis circumstances and conflicts, and fostering a collaborative approach in capacity improvement of African militaries,” one official added.
The March 28 conclave will be divided into two sessions.
“The first session will focus on the essential pillars of the India-Africa defence relationship, while the second session will focus on the Indian defence industry’s outreach to Africa,” an official said, adding that the panel discussion will include notable speakers from Africa. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is also expected to attend and deliver an address at the summit.
Attempting to strengthen defence ties
THE EVENTS coincide with India’s ongoing efforts to strengthen defence ties with African countries. India sees Africa as a significant market for exporting indigenous defence equipment while also working to meet the capacity enhancement needs of African armies.
According to the officials, the military drill will be broken into four phases, with the trainers being trained first.
“A phase of humanitarian mine action and peacekeeping operations will follow this. Eventually, a validation exercise will be carried out to evaluate the effects of the training,” an officer stated. The validation exercise will occur on March 29 and be watched by African army chiefs.
Nine participating countries will send 78 personnel, while 11 others have stated that they will send 21 observers.
The police claimed different indigenous equipment would be employed during the practice. Trips to defence industries in and around Pune have also been organised for visiting delegates.
The developments coincide with India’s ongoing efforts to strengthen defence ties with African countries. India sees Africa as a significant market for exporting indigenous defence equipment while also working to meet the capacity enhancement needs of African armies.