Diplomatist Magazine Diplomatist April 2018 - Page 57

ago in New Delhi, Prime Minister Modi, President Macron and many of the member countries or Suryaputras, were present. Despite the enormous presence and energy of Prime Minister Modi, the role of France in conceptualising and establishing the ISA cannot be overstated. France has been a big brother all along. Setting up of a UN organisation in a particular country is itself not always an easy thing to do unless a country has good support as there are always many contenders. France’s support as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the current de facto leader of Europe would have been crucial for India. During the setting up of the ISA, France was instrumental in getting the support of the UN system, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other international agencies and in registering ISA under Article 102 of the UN Charter. Working together with India, France ensured that most of the French-speaking “sunshine” states and as well as others appreciated ISA’s aims and became its members. France: An ideal strategic partner for India in Africa During operations, ISA stands to benefi t greatly from the French presence. France has deep knowledge of all French- speaking countries in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa as well as connections in Portuguese Africa and English speaking Africa. It has equally close links with French-speaking Oceania and the Caribbean, many of which are overseas territories of France and at risk due to rising sea levels. ISA stands to benefi t greatly from the French presence. France has deep knowledge of all French-speaking countries in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa as well as connections in Portuguese Africa and English speaking Africa. The role of France in the ISA will be that of the leading provider of solar technology. France is ranked 4th in the EU in terms of installed PV capacity. At home, it has large solar parks installed such as the Cestas Solar Park. Equally active overseas, it recently set up a solar power plant in Mirzapur, UP. In 2017, President Macron inaugurated West Africa’s largest solar energy plant in Burkina Faso. France seems extremely serious about operating in Africa evident from the France-China Joint Statement of June 2015 facilitating the two countries to operate jointly in Africa in order to leverage each other’s strengths. One of the areas identifi ed is the solar energy sector in which China is the world's largest manufacturer. France has pledged around $850 million to the ISA. What will be required of the ISA during its operations is to ensure a very wide deployment of solar technologies across the world which will bring down the cost of development and production, and perhaps to facilitate the emergence of India as a major manufacturing hub and an alternative supplier to China. Also, it would be wise for ISA not to view all the “sunshine” or member countries equally as they have very different needs, capabilities and geographical locations. The member countries would benefi t from a hub and spokes type of arrangement in the ISA where individual countries would be able to work with ISA hubs in their regions. France’s role can be expected to grow both inside and outside the ISA. Some say France is turning into India’s long-term ally in geopolitics and becoming its most valuable international partner, slowly replacing Russia, and the US. * The author is former UN, World Bank and Commonwealth Secretariat Adviser International Trade and Industry Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist • Vol 6 • Issue 4 • April 2018, Noida • 55