No more is it the sleepy continent of the world. And no longer is it just celebrated as the golden bird of the olden decades. India and Africa are two resurgent powers that are growing in immensity by the tick of the clock where trade and economic growth are concerned.

Today India enjoys a great relationship with Africa. And implicit in a visibly close bond between the rising continent on the one hand and one of Asia’s tiger economies on the other is an intricate bond that Mahatma Gandhi shared with Africa. The first seeds of Gandhi’s impeccable and highly cited peaceful means of fighting the British Raj were sown in the apartheid culture that he was a victim of. Had Africa not had impacted his psyche, what might have happened to his immense national movement, it ought to be wondered?

The ties between India and Africa aren’t newly-established ties but go well in the past, and date back to the pre-independent India.

The constantly growing relationship whose economics is defined by a rising trade co-operation between the two growing world powers includes mega developments on the front of infrastructure, real estate, engineering, education and construction, to name a few spheres. And now, the news of India building convention centres across Africa is making the news. Though for some of us, it might be a sterling new development. Although for those who are aware of India’s recent efforts to shape Africa’s infrastructure, it’s another definite beginning, rather a continuity of existing ties. Wondering how?

In the recent past, India built the Presidential Palace in Ghana and had also been involved in making the parliament building in Afghanistan. At present, India is confirmed to be setting up new convention centres in the following countries: Burkina Faso, Togo, Gabon, Liberia, Uganda, Zambia and, Malawi. It is also known that the new convention centres are being made on a priority basis by India.

Why this is an interesting move, particularly from the standpoint of India is that- up until now, building convention centres was only thought of being one of the key strengths of China. So far, China has made a number of convention centres particularly in South Asia such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Now, India is determined to change the tide. And the interesting mix of developments doesn’t end here. Once these convention centres are complete, brand new structures are likely to be built in 12 other nations in Africa.

The two countries continue to search for new ways in which to collaborate. Due to extensive poverty in many African countries, India is known to have encouraged African students to relocate to India in order to pursue education. There’s little surprise then as to why India continues to enjoy a great amount of goodwill from Africa. The scholarships extended to African students shape the relationship further.

But you’d be surprised to know that the move to build convention centres across African nations isn’t a joint decision of various ministries in India. Interestingly, the idea is a brainchild of Ms Sushma Swaraj, the country’s external affairs minister. And these aren’t any standalone moves rather a cohesive part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi. Even as Gandhi isn’t a national figure in Africa in contrast to India, he does enjoy an iconic status. You understand this more when you realise that one of the nicknames of ‘Madiba’ Nelson Mandela was the ‘Gandhi of Africa’.

The uniqueness about the new and to-be-built convention centres is that they will follow local tradition, local customs and traditional architectural designs. And soon, come July, Prime Minister Modi is expected to be part of the much-important BRICS summit to take place in Africa.

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