Senior Army officers on Friday said the 10-day AFINDEX exercise, in which contingents from nine countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Niger, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) will take part, will kick off on March 21. Eleven other countries, including Congo, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Morocco, are sending observers for the exercise, which is being held for the second time after 2019.
The first Africa chiefs’ conclave, in turn, will be held in Pune on March 28 to coincide with the exercise. Defence minister Rajnath Singh is slated to address the conclave, for which 10 chiefs have already confirmed their participation, while another 12 are sending their representatives.
While India does not have China’s economic and military wherewithal, New Delhi is banking upon its longstanding ties with many African nations. The India Africa defence ministers’ conclave, for instance, was held on the side-lines of the DefExpo at Lucknow in 2020. It was followed by the India Africa defence dialogue during the DefExpo at Gandhinagar last year.
“There has been a very concerted outreach to Africa over the last three years. The forthcoming exercise and the conclave will build upon the initiatives taken to strengthen India-Africa relations. The aim is also to help in the capacity-enhancement of African armies in a collaborative manner,” an officer said.