Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on Tuesday, said India will continue to work with African nations to promote regional security, foster stability, and enhance the defence capabilities together.

Speaking at the first edition of the India-Africa Army Chiefs’ Conclave at Pune, Rajnath Singh also reiterated India’s commitment to provide support to African partner countries in all defence-related matters, including capability enhancement of their armed forces, to ensure their economic growth and social development. The full potential of a nation’s progress, advocated the defence minister, can be realised only when its security is ensured.

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

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Singh 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,” Singh said.

The Defence Ministry quoted Rajnath Singh to state that India has been at the forefront of providing training to the armed forces of African nations and equipping them with the 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, the minister said at the conclave. It also encompasses training civilians disaster management, humanitarian aid and medical assistance, the Minister stated.

He added the Joint Exercises between India and African nations provide an excellent opportunity for the armed forces to learn from each other and promote interoperability. The Minister 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 and hydrography and countering terrorism and extremism will be essential for regional peace and prosperity,” he said.

Singh pointed out that the people of India and Africa together represent a third of humanity, a demographic dividend which has to be used wisely. He called for turning this huge human resource into an engine of growth and development. “Many African nations have the fastest rate of growth of population in the world. As per some projections, by 2050, there would be one African, out of every four people in the world. Therefore, if humanity has to develop, Africa has to develop. Today, Africa is home to more than a billion vibrant people, with more than two-thirds of them under the age of 35. If this human capital is supported with the right opportunities, it will become the growth engine for not just Africa, but also for the entire world,” he added.