India & UAE Ink Down MoUs for Project in Third Country
India and UAE will collaborate to set up an IT excellence centre in Ethiopia riding on Delhi’s expertise and UAE’s funds in the Eastern African country, as per the plans laid down in the two memorandum of understanding (MoU) that are signed by India & UAE for the first time to set up projects in third countries beginning with Ethiopia during Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s ongoing visit to the Gulf country.
The MoU will focus on third country projects beginning with Africa under the South-South cooperation model.
While Ethiopia is the highest recipient of India’s concessional loans outside South Asia, UAE enjoys political goodwill in the country for having mediated between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
This will be India’s second third-country project in Africa after Delhi and Tokyo during their October annual summit decided to set up a hospital in Kenya.
“The MoU on development cooperation in Africa being signed between India and UAE will be a significant outcome since it will be a first of its kind in South-South Government to Government (G-to-G) bilateral cooperation for taking up a specific project in Africa. We have just recently agreed to cooperate on a G-to-G project in Kenya with Japan, as an example of North-South cooperation in Africa,” economics relations secretary, in the ministry of external affairs in charge of India’s relations with the Gulf and Africa, T S Tirumurti, apprised media.
Cooperation in Africa, such as organising an SME development seminar in Kenya and seeking a possibility of a collaborative project in the area of health service such as developing a cancer hospital in Kenya.
Africa is the focus under the Narendra Modi government amid China’s push in the continent and countries from Europe are also keen to partner India for projects in third countries in Africa.
Delhi and Abu Dhabi are also in talks to set up second strategic oil reserve in India with UAE’s support, increasing funds for infrastructure projects in India, defence purchases and space as the Gulf country seeks to create a niche for itself in partnership with India.
Close on the heels of Swaraj’s visit, the ruler of Sharjah will visit India with Sharjah being partner for World Book Fair in Delhi. Sharjah ruler Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi is an Indophile and fluent in Malayalam.
“India has emerged as a suitable partner for UAE in the changing geo-politics and geo-economics. PM Narendra Modi’s two visits to UAE since 2015 and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s two trips to India in 2016 & 2017 have opened a new chapter in strategic partnership. UAE wants to position itself as a global player, focus on hitherto new areas beyond energy and finance and India has emerged as a partner in that process. The current situation in Gulf — Yemen war, Qatar blockade and impasse in Iran — have also shaped UAE’s desire to expand partnership with India, an emerging global power which can meet Abu Dhabi’s interests,” pointed out an expert on Gulf affairs.