AS top research fellows from Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) and Indian Council on World Affairs (ICWA) ended a two-day conference in Lagos, a strong case has been made for better relations between India and Nigeria as well as other African countries.
According to speakers at the two-day event entitled Second India-Africa Academic Conference, the relations between India and African countries should transcend trade bilateral relations into India, with its rich credential as the oldest democracy, promoting democracy on African continent and using its position as a regional economic and military power to promote joint causes.
They also proposed a more active intellectual collaboration and exchange between research organisations in India and Africa like the current one between NIIA and ICWA to generate ideas and inputs for the formulation of policies to enhance diplomatic co-operation.
Those who canvassed these positions included Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru; former Minister for External Affairs, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi; India High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Mahesh Sachedev; Director- General of NIIA, Prof. Bola Akintenrinwa; his counterpart in ICWA, Ambassador S.T. Devare among others .
Ashiru commended the rapid growth of Nigeria and India bilateral trade as well as the Asian country’s investment drive in Africa.
The minister asked India to, apart from promoting bilateral and investment drive in Nigeria and Africa, support the quest to entrench democracy on the continent as well as assisting in tackling and re-defining unequal power balance in the global environment.
He also noted that key elements and issues in Indo-Africa relations such as the trade and investment opportunities have always dominated the discourse on the future of relations between India and Africa.
On the relationship between India and Africa, he said it dates back to some centuries ago featuring early trade links.
“Today India’s presence in Africa has grown beyond those early historical and diplomatic links to include substantial economic interests and investments. India has shown serious interest in Africa’s mineral resources and energy, and is already engaged in competition with other new economic diplomacy in Africa.