India’s Policy towards Africa
- India has a longstanding policy towards Africa, which has been shaped by shared historical and cultural ties, as well as economic and strategic interests.
- India’s policy towards Africa has evolved over time, but it has consistently focused on building strong bilateral relations with individual African countries, as well as promoting regional integration and cooperation on the continent.
- India’s engagement with Africa dates back to the 1950s and 1960s, when several African countries gained independence from colonial rule. India played an active role in supporting these newly independent nations and helping them to build their economies and institutions.
- India provided technical assistance, training, and scholarships to African students and professionals, and also extended lines of credit to support infrastructure projects and economic development. In recent years, India’s policy towards Africa has been characterized by a focus on economic and strategic interests.
- India has sought to deepen economic ties with African countries through trade, investment, and development cooperation. India has also sought to expand its diplomatic presence in Africa, opening new embassies and consulates in several countries.
- One of the key pillars of India’s policy towards Africa is the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS), which was first held in 2008 and has since been held twice more, in 2011 and 2015.
- The IAFS is a platform for India to engage with African countries on a wide range of issues, including trade, investment, development cooperation, and strategic partnerships.
- In addition to the IAFS, India has also established several other initiatives to promote economic and strategic ties with Africa. These include the India-Africa Business Council, the India-Africa Health Fund, and the India-Africa Hydrocarbons Conference.
- India has also extended lines of credit to African countries to support infrastructure projects and economic development and has provided technical assistance and training in areas such as agriculture, health, and education.
Overall, India’s policy towards Africa has been characterized by a focus on building strong bilateral relations, promoting economic and strategic ties, and supporting regional integration and cooperation on the continent.
India and China in Africa
Both India and China have been engaging with African continent owing to its vast resources and potential for diversification of trade partners. In this line, China is shifting from its policy of non-interference to playing a key role in the security for keeping its investments safe. This is visible in its keen interest in the Horn of Africa. In this context, let us understand the presence of China in Africa, as well as India’ engagement with Africa.
REASONS BEHIND GLOBAL ATTENTION ON AFRICA
- Africa is endowed with variety of natural resources.
- Increasing population which if skilled could be a source of human resource.
- 55 countries from Africa have critical weight in global institutions such as UN etc.
- Many African countries are one of the fastest growing economies of the world.
- Countries like Mauritius, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Namibia, and Ghana rank relatively high as politically stable, democratic countries.
- 34 countries, home to 72% of Africa’s citizens, have improved their governance performance over the last 10 years, and significant improvements have been seen in participation, rule of law, and rights, among other categories.
- Response to conflicts: African Union has designated 2019 as “Year of Refugees, Returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa”, highlighting an Africa led solution to refugee crisis.
- Progress has been made on health and disease related issues.
- Declining poverty: Share of people living in extreme poverty in Africa has declined in past decades. For ex. Ethiopia is projected to almost eliminate extreme poverty by 2050.
- Literacy rates are improving, and progress has been witnessed on Gender Equality.
CHALLENGES IN AFRICA
- Exploitation during colonial times along with ill-conceived transfer of power.
- Frequent civil wars in countries like Rwanda, Congo, Somalia, Sudan etc.
- Lack of state capacity and good governance in African countries.
- Lack of infrastructure development and connectivity across the continent.
- Resource curse: Natural resource endowment has hurt as leaders see mining as source of corruption and not development.
- Climate change and desertification. For ex. Desertification in Sahel region.
- Geopolitical competition and meddling in African countries by global powers.
- Africa wide institutions such as African Union etc. have had limited impact.
CHINESE PRESENCE IN AFRICA
- China has been investing across Africa in infrastructure projects as well as in raw materials.
- China is increasingly taking interest in security of African continent. This was reflected in first China-Horn of Africa Peace, Governance & Development Conference. Countries from African Horn participated.
PROJECTS OF CHINA IN HORN OF AFRICA
- Countries from Horn of Africa participated, and four resolutions were adopted: Dakar Action Plan, China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035, Sino-African Declaration on Climate Change and Declaration of Eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC.
- Donated around 5 lakh vaccines to the region.
- China’s interests are in four major areas: infrastructural projects, financial assistance, natural resources, and maritime interests.
- African countries have welcomed Chinese presence.
A SHIFT FROM PRINCIPLE OF NON-INTERFERENCE
- For Africa, Chinese investments could lead to stable environments helping countries achieve their peace and development. However, conflict in Africa is a huge cost on Chinese investments. Hence, China is taking keen interest in security of the region. Ex. Ethiopian conflict in Tigray region.
- From a trading perspective, Horn of Africa plays a significant role in achieving the objectives of the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035.
- China’s move towards peace in Africa indicates a shift in its principle of non-intervention.
- Chinese aim to project itself as a global leader and boost its international status.
- European presence has been criticized by African nations, unlike the Chinese presence.
- African governments not conforming to Western standards of democracy, interact better with powers like China and Russia.
INDIAN FOREIGN POLICY WITH AFRICA
- PM outlined 10 Guiding principles for India’s engagement with Africa
- Africa will be top of India’s foreign policy priorities; India will have sustained and regular engagements to intensify and deepen its relations with Africa.
- India’s development partnership with Africa will be guided by priorities formed by respective African countries. India will rely on African talent and skill to build local capacity and create local opportunities.
- India will keep its markets open and make it easier and attractive for Africa to trade with India. India will support its industry to invest in Africa.
- India will harness its experience with digital revolution to support Africa’s development, improve delivery of public services, extend education, health, financial inclusion and mainstream the marginalized
- Address challenges of climate change, wherein India will work with Africa to ensure a just international climate order, preserve biodiversity; adopt clean and efficient energy sources.
- Strengthen cooperation and enhance mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism, keep our cyberspace safe and secure and supporting UN in advancing and keeping peace.
- Keep oceans open and free for the benefit of all nations. Ensure cooperation and not competition in eastern shores of Africa and eastern Indian Ocean.
- Ensure Africa does not turn into a theatre of rival ambitions.
- India will work together for a just, representative, democratic global order and seek reforms in global institutions with an equal place for Africa.
CONCERNS IN INDIA-AFRICA TRADE & INVESTMENT
- India’s trade with Africa mainly relies on petroleum and LNG and therefore requires diversification.
- India’s trade in Africa is localized to countries of East Africa and require further expansion to other regions.
- Lack of companies from India outreaching to African markets and Indian telecom companies which had strong presence in Africa were unable to expand due to slowdown in telecom sector in India.
- Africa has seen a global decline in FDI inflows with a drop of 21% in 2016-17 which affected Indian investment sentiments and there is also a lack of ability for Indian companies to compete with Chinese investment and cheap exports to Africa.
- Japan Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) is yet to be implemented effectively. India & Japan have long engagement with Africa would be useful in promoting AAGC. They have a long way to go, and it is still far-fetched to view AAGC as a counter to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
ISSUES WITH INDIA’S APPROACH TOWARDS AFRICA
- Lack of a clear strategy.
- In comparison to China, India’s development cooperation is based on state-led infrastructure for resources deals, rising debt threats, lack of domestic capacity building and job creation.
- India is not actively pursuing any specific development goals. Ex. Indian Line of credits – LoCs have not been designed to achieve a larger development goal such as food security, health security, clean energy or education for all.
- No synchronization between different development instruments. LoCs, grants & capacity building operate as standalone instruments of development cooperation, with almost no links with each other.
- Implementation has been a key constraint for Indian LoCs, with poor disbursal rates and project completion record.
- Unlike China & West, India does not have substantial resources to support Africa. Therefore, it should prepare a focused Africa strategy for and identify a few areas for closer cooperation.
- Investment in human capital: Current focus on capacity building is online with Africa’s needs given continent’s huge youth population that need skills and jobs.
- Explore greater collaboration with NGO to implement development projects in Africa at low costs.
- India should try to support Indian companies making investment in development-friendly projects for mutual benefit.
- Though some improvement in project implementation has occurred in recent years, India’s overall record is poor. Efforts must be made to expedite the LoC projects.