INDIA IS set to hold the first-ever India-Africa Army Chiefs Conclave on March 28, and a nine-day military exercise with African militaries from March 21, in Pune, furthering India’s outreach to African nations amid China’s growing influence in the continent, senior Army officers said on Friday.
As many as 22 Army Chiefs and representatives of Army Chiefs of African countries have confirmed their participation in the conclave to be hosted by Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande. Senior officers of the services and officials from the ministries of Defence and External Affairs will also attend the conclave.
Army chiefs of Congo, Niger, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda, Seychelles, Gambia, Tanzania and Kenya have confirmed their participation in the event. Representatives of military heads of 12 nations will also participate in the conclave.
The second edition of Africa-India Exercise (AFINDEX-2023), which will see participation of contingents from more than 20 countries, will be held between March 21 and March 29. An exhibition of indigenous military equipment and platforms will be organised on the concluding day of the exercise, showcasing India’s manufacturing capabilities to the African delegates.
Army officers indicated that the number of participants in the conclave and the military exercise may go up. India has invited 54 African countries to attend the military exercise.
They said the objective of the initiatives are to continue building upon initiatives taken to strengthen India-Africa relations, with a focus on enhancing peace and security, and creating opportunities to exchange ideas and perspectives.
“Learning from the African experience in cooperative security, management of security crisis situations and conflicts, and promoting a collaborative approach in capacity enhancement of African armies are among the objectives,” an officer said.
The March 28 conclave will take place over two sessions.
“The first session will explore the key pillars of India-Africa defence partnership, while the second session will focus on the Indian defence industry’s outreach to Africa,” an officer said, adding that eminent speakers from Africa will be part of the panel discussion. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is also scheduled to attend the conclave and deliver an address.
Looking to boost defence ties
THE EVENTS come amid India’s consistent efforts to boost defence ties with African countries. India is looking at Africa as a major market to export its indigenous defence equipment, but at the same time has been working on addressing the capacity enhancement requirements of African armies.
On the military exercise, the officers said it will be divided into four phases, adding that initially, the trainers will be trained.
“This will be followed by a Humanitarian Mine Action and a Peace Keeping Operations phase. Finally, a validation exercise will be conducted to assess the results of the training conducted,” an officer said. The validation exercise will be conducted on March 29 and will be witnessed by the Chiefs of African armies.
Nine participating countries will send across 78 personnel while 11 others have said they will be represented by 21 observers.
The officers said several indigenous equipment will be used during the exercise. Tours for the visiting delegates to defence industries around Pune have also been planned.
The events come amid India’s consistent efforts to boost defence ties with African countries. India is looking at Africa as a major market to export its indigenous defence equipment, but at the same time has been working on addressing the capacity enhancement requirements of African armies.