COVID-19: Implications on the India-Africa Partnership « Khabarhub
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024

COVID-19: Implications on the India-Africa Partnership



As of May 12, there are more than 63,319 confirmed cases across the African continent, with heads of state of different countries implementing prevention and containment measures to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Out of the 54 countries in Africa, 53 have confirmed cases of COVID-19 with Lesotho being the only country that has been marked safe.

South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria have the highest number of active cases. Public infrastructure that has been a major challenge for most of the African countries has come under stress due to this global pandemic outbreak.

There is a high possibility that the African economy will be adversely affected. In this testing time, various initiatives have been undertaken by the African countries and in this attempt, they are turning towards its reliable partners for aid and assistance.

Current scenario in Africa

The number of COVID-19 cases in the African continent is comparatively less than that in Asia, Europe and the United States of America.

A high percentage of the population lives in unfavorable conditions, thereby migrating to different countries in search of a better standard of living, making them more vulnerable to such kind of viruses.

Many of the countries such as South Africa, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe had imposed a lockdown for a brief period of time. Early precautionary measures such as sealing of borders, suspension of international flights, limited curfew practices, suspension of academic activities, extensive disinfection work and quarantine measures were carried out across the continent.

Though the African continent is trying various mechanisms to curb the impact of the virus, certain grass root challenges continue to hinder the efforts initiated by them. For instance, 33 countries within the continent are labeled as least developed, and out of these, 22 countries are most prone to such an infection outbreak.

A high percentage of the population lives in unfavorable conditions, thereby migrating to different countries in search of a better standard of living, making them more vulnerable to such kind of viruses.

Though there are a large number of factors that challenge the African continent considering that Africa has an added advantage of having prior experience in dealing with pandemics such as Ebola, HIV and Malaria.

This experience has provided many countries with the necessary infrastructural support required to tackle the virus but access to clean water and poor health care system continue to be a matter of grave concern for the majority of the countries in the continent.

India, through its e-network, has provided telemedicine and also has trained individuals to treat patients suffering from such diseases. Africa has also looked towards India to fulfill its medical requirements.

Secondly, the late entry of COVID-19 in the African continent has provided an opportunity for the countries to learn from the mistakes made by various other countries and to avoid the same and thereby come up with a better mechanism to counter the Coronavirus.

Apart from the poor healthcare system, managing the economy has become another big challenge for the majority of the African countries.

With many of the African countries economically dependent on China, the economic impact on African countries is clearly visible as both the demand and supply chain has been adversely affected.

The production graph of some of the fastest-growing economies in Africa such as South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda has shown a relative decline in the last one month, owing to the lockdown being imposed to avoid the spreading of the virus.

With oil prices falling at its lowest, countries such as Angola, Libya, Algeria, and Gabon, the major African oil-exporting countries, are facing the heat.

In this scenario, the lack of adequate healthcare system and the dwindling economy is pushing many of the African countries to turn towards neighboring countries for medical as well as economic support especially India, who has been their trusted friend for centuries.

India’s pharma diplomacy in Africa

Africa makes up 11 percent of the world’s population but has a share of 24 percent in the disease burden. The continent faces the dearth of qualified doctors and medical professionals. Many of the countries, predominantly India, have provided their assistance to the continent in their fight against diseases such as Ebola, HIV and Malaria.

To ensure this, regular interaction with the heads of the state is required and more initiatives need to be undertaken and fulfilled from the Indian side.

Understanding Africa’s need for infrastructural development, capacity building, and enhanced cooperation in drugs and diagnostics, India has offered great healthcare and pharmaceutical support to the African continent.

Pharmaceutical is one of the major areas of cooperation between India and Africa. A large number of medicinal drugs are supplied to African countries to fight diseases such as Malaria and HIV, some of the major diseases that kill hundreds of thousands of people every year.

India, through its e-network, has provided telemedicine and also has trained individuals to treat patients suffering from such diseases. Africa has also looked towards India to fulfill its medical requirements.

Keeping up with this, India has once again provided aid and assistance to its African partner.

India has sent millions of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and paracetamol across the globe, as a symbol of India’s friendship and commitment towards Africa. India is one of the largest producers of HCQ in the world and exports approximately USD 50 million worth of it every year.

India has sent a consignment of HCQ to Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Zambia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Congo, Egypt and Comoros.

Similarly, consignments of paracetamol are being sent to Mali, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Chad, Republic of Congo and Senegal.

India’s “Pharma Diplomacy” is considered as part of its larger goodwill strategy implemented in engaging with its African counterparts.

As a part of the “Africa-focus working day”, the Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar, carried out a series of discussion through e-platform with the heads of the African countries, including Niger, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Mali and Nigeria.

Way forward

As countries across the world are making efforts to contain the pandemic, India and Africa are also putting their best foot forward to tackle the challenge.

Dwindling economy and poor healthcare system have made Africa look at its partners for support, India in this scenario has extended its full support to its partner. India’s Africa policy is guided by its shared historical linkages and common challenges and future prospects in this time of crisis.

India’s use of its Pharma diplomacy is providing the necessary medical assistance to various African countries. This diplomatic engagement can be seen as an attempt made by India in rebooting its Africa policy.

India intends to project that it has the capacity as well as it is a reliable partner that the African continent as well as others in the world, that can count on during such a crisis.

India-Africa relationship is multi-dimensional and a two-way process. Energy security, diaspora, bilateral trade and investment are some of the key drivers of India-Africa relationship and it is interesting to see how post-COVID-19, these factors are able to enhance the engagement.

Likewise, though China will continue to be a major player in the African continent, the pandemic has provided India a scope to strengthen its engagement with Africa and make the most out of the situation both in terms of economy and goodwill.

To ensure this, regular interaction with the heads of the state is required and more initiatives need to be undertaken and fulfilled from the Indian side.

Therefore, it can be said that the COVID-19 has provided an opportunity to both India and Africa to deepen their partnership, however, it is interesting to see how the two can make the best use of this current situation.

(Meghna Muralidharan is a Research Scholar at Centre for African Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India)

(Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement (NIICE), Nepal’s independent think tank, and Khabarhub — Nepal’s popular news portal — have joined hands to disseminate NIICE research articles from Nepal)

Publish Date : 13 May 2020 08:53 AM

India alert after boy dies from Nipah virus in Kerala

DELHI: Health authorities in India’s Kerala state have issued an

Nepal sees Rs 1,440 billion foreign trade deficit in 2023/24

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s foreign trade in the fiscal year 2023/24 saw

UML finalizes names of new ministers in Bagmati Province

KATHMANDU: As the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML agree to

Bahadur Singh Lama stakes claim as Bagmati Province CM

KATHMANDU: Bahadur Singh Lama, the parliamentary party leader of the

Service seekers undergo hassles at Transport Office (Photos)

KATHMANDU: Service seekers at offices under the Transport Management Department