By Biswajit Choudhury, New Delhi Feb 16 IANS | 5 months ago

Vital to India's interests in the Indian Ocean, the island nation of Seychelles is working closely with India in developing the "Blue Economy" concept - a blueprint to tap the ocean's resources for transforming their coastal economies and the African continent.


Seychelles Vice President Danny Faure, who was here for the just-concluded TERI-organised Delhi Sustainable Development Summit soon after the Seychelles Blue Economy Summit in Abu Dhabi, said Africa's future lies in the concept.

"The majority of world trade is by the sea. The majority of new mineral resources will not be found on land but on the seabed. There is no food security without a sustainable ocean. Thus, we're working closely with India on developing the Blue Economy concept," Faure told IANS in an interview here.

He said Seychelles felt grateful about having "by our side a neighbour with technological dynamism like India."

"Our partnership in research and hydrographical surveys are also catalysts for a wider development of the Blue Economy," Faure noted.

Pointing out that Africa's oceanic mass was far greater than its land mass, Faure said the African Union (AU), at its Addis Ababa summit last month, expressed its commitment to developing the Blue Economy concept as a vital part of the continent's future development to be outlined in the AU's Agenda 2063.

Seychelles has a maritime security framework with India that addresses on priority issues like maritime pollution and overfishing that impact the Indian Ocean, Faure said.

"India and Seychelles share the same ocean and we have developed what is called the maritime security framework with India. A lot of joint work involves hydrographic surveys of the ocean. We have also been receiving help of Indian Navy specialists," he said.

An MoU between India and Seychelles signed in September last year allows deputing personnel of the Indian Navy's air arm to Seychelles for operational training and basic maintenance of the Seychelles People's Defence Force Dornier reconnaissance aircraft.

The Indian Navy has been regularly deploying Dorniers and helicopters in Seychelles for the last few years, as well as increasing the visits of its warships to the region on anti-piracy operations. Seychelles is a key base in the international naval campaign against piracy originating off the Somali coast.

It is a member of the international security communities currently engaged in addressing the issue of maritime insecurity in the region - the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) that includes naval representatives from the littoral states - and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), the chair of which was handed over by India to Australia at its Perth meeting last October.

Tiny Seychelles, with seven percent of its population being of Indian origin, has investments by some major Indian companies. Bharti Airtel has invested over $25 million and set up mobile and internet services there since 1998. Bank of Baroda has an overseas branch in Seychelles since 1978, while the Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) was awarded a major contract in 2009 for installation material and cabling works.

Tata Motors has supplied most of the buses that ply in Seychelles capital Victoria and other parts of the island.

"We cannot talk of economic development without talking of the support of India. We have an excellent relationship" Faure stated.

(Biswajit Choudhury can be reached at biswajit.c@ians.in)

(Posted on 16-02-2014)