The Indian Army is ready to join African nations in a first-of-its-kind Indo-African Field Exercise, a move experts see as a way to boost ties with the continent. The joint military drills are expected to see the participation of 12 African nations, including Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Indo-African Field Exercise will be held between March 18 – 27 in Pune.
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Though India has always maintained good ties with African nations, there has been a significant expansion in Chinese engagement in the region over the past decade. The same became even more noticeable in 2018 when China built a Naval base in Djibouti, a country in East Africa.
It is apparent that China has been trying to expand its influence beyond the Indian Ocean and the construction of the country’s Naval base in Djibouti is a vital juncture of its Naval strategy.
China has also surfaced as the biggest arms exporters for African nations, who have remained indulged in wars. There has been an increase of 55% in the arms exported from China to African nations between 2013 and 2017. During this span, China even surged ahead of the US and Russia in the race.
The accelerated increase in Chinese influence in the region is not just about military ambitions but is also an attempt to accomplish major economic goals. Africa is home to 30% of the total hydrocarbon in the world and is loaded with natural minerals and resources. But due to lack of infrastructure and frequent war-like situations, the region has failed to develop in sync with its resources.
Chinese organisations are engaged in 2500 construction projects across 51 African nations, totalling a whopping USD 94 billion. China has also tried to form a debt trap in the region, with the nations in Africa currently owing India’s neighbour USD 1.5 billion. On the lines of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, China is seeking to control the African nations and use them to its strategic advantage.