African maritime security – interview with the Observer Research Foundation

African maritime security and the future of India-Africa maritime security cooperation – that is the slightly bulky title of my recent interview with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). The interview was hosted by two ORF experts. Abhijit Singh is a former naval officer and head of the maritime policy initiative at ORF. Abhishek Mishra is currently a Junior Fellow with ORF’s Strategic Studies Programme and has conducted extensive research on maritime cooperation between India and Africa in the Indian Ocean region.

The Observer Research Foundation is an Indian think tank that ‘seeks to lead and aid policy thinking towards building a strong and prosperous India in a fair and equitable world’. To fulfil this ambitious mandate, the foundation conducts in-depth research in many different areas and provides a broad range of platforms.

This video interview was a very good opportunity to discuss some of the non-traditional challenges which many African countries are facing in the maritime environment. It also provides some ideas about the potential for better cooperation between India and African countries, particularly in the Indian Ocean region.

This cooperation is a particularly interesting topic for debate. India’s role in Africa has been relatively limited in the past, but the continent plays a more and more prominent role for India’s foreign policy. It is therefore necessary that policymakers understand the imperatives that African governments are facing, including issues related to maritime security.

The complete interview (about 30 minutes) can also be found on the ORF website, together with a lot of information about ORF’s research programmes and publications. I am already looking forward to continued discussions in the coming months as India’s role in Africa is slowly expanding. Strategic questions aside, Indian companies also have a more and more prominent role in many African countries. While maritime security may only be one issue among many others, it can be an important piece in efforts to bring together countries from the ‘Global South’.