Lucknow: Amid China making inroads into Africa, India Thursday said it is focusing on the region as a potential market for domestic defence equipment, including UAVs, arms and ammunition, as the country aims for military exports worth $5 billion in the next five years.
“India is geared up to provide Offshore Patrol Vessels, fast interceptor boats, body and vehicle armour, Night Vision Goggles, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Dornier aircraft and arms and ammunition to our African counterparts,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said at the DefExpo 2020, which is being held in Lucknow.
Singh was addressing the first Indo-Africa Defence Ministers’ Conference, which was attended by 12 African defence ministers and representatives from a total of 38 countries.
In a joint declaration after the conference, the delegates called for deeper cooperation in the domain of defence industry, including through investment, joint ventures in defence equipment software, digital defence, research and development, provisioning of defence equipment, spares and their maintenance on sustainable and mutually beneficial terms.
Singh said that India’s partnership with Africa is an open partnership with all the possibilities and avenues for collaboration open from India’s side.
China has made rapid inroads into Africa with Beijing pumping in a lot of money for several projects.
‘Maritime security matter of common interest’
Stating that the guiding principles given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for India’s engagement with Africa has deepened economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours, Singh said: “Maritime security in the region is a matter of common interest for both India and Africa, which is highlighted by the government’s emphasis on SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) for the Indo-Pacific region”.
The conference was attended by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh, IAF chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria, Army chief General M.M. Naravane, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, senior officials of the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs.
In the joint declaration, India and African nations also called for decisive action to root out cross-border terrorism, dismantle terrorist safe havens and eliminate financing channels of terror groups.
It also emphasised the need for all countries to ensure that territory under their control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries in any manner, in a veiled reference to Pakistan.
Speaking at the DefExpo inauguration Wednesday, PM Modi had said that in 2014, India’s defence exports were about Rs 2,000 crore but in the past two years the figure has reached Rs 17,000 crore.
“The aim is to reach defence exports worth $5 billion (Rs 35,000 crore),” he had said.