Sharing a strong bond since the colonial era, India deepened its ties with Africa at bilateral and continental levels during the recently concluded third India-Africa Forum Summit. The current edition turned out to be an event to remember when foreign dignitaries from 54 African countries strived for a strategic and an economic partnership with India. The four-day summit gave a clear indication that India’s focus is not restricted to crude oil and energy security.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the Line of Credit (LOC) from $5 billion in 2011 to $10 billion for the next five years, it drove home the point that India is ready to assist Africa in capacity building, food security and defence.
“The summit is a very compelling and powerful engagement, presenting India as a multifarious state,” says Mahesh Chand, editor of India Writes.
“It signals India’s commitment to open new trajectory globally. It serves two objectives: strategically giving boost to India’s bid to secure a place in United Nations Security Council as well its strong economic engagement with a continent that has witnessed five percent economic growth despite global slowdown.”
India’s investment strategies in Africa have now become very crucial following its own economic growth.
India-Africa bilateral trade currently stands at around $70 billion. Indian companies have invested around $30-35 billion in the African continent since the 2008 summit.
India has even extended development assistance worth $7.4 billion to Africa. Of this $6.8 billion has been approved and around $3.5 billion has been disbursed.
Ajay Dubey, chairman, Centre for African Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, says, “Since 1964, India used to run the Indian Technical Economic Cooperation Programme restricted to training manpower and sending experts to African countries. It was a global programme. The 2008 New Delhi summit of ‘Team Nine’ was a precursor to the present summit. For the first time eight African countries along with India worked on development and cooperation. India released $500 million as LOC. Interestingly, India truly went out of its way while extending financial assistance to Africa.”
“At that time we did not even look at 60 percent of the West African population, which is largely dominated by Francophones (French speaking) and Lusophones (Portuguese speaking). India never had strong ties with them due to the language barrier and other factors. owever, this region, in early 2000, emerged as having largest hydropower resources and it is now called the Gulf of Guinea,” said Dubey.
Notably, India imports 70 percent of oil from overseas, most of it from the West Asia. Therefore, India is working on strengthening the ties with new oil-rich countries such as Madagascar, Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda.
Revealing the major outcome of the summit, Chand says, “India is keen to increase the current oil import of 20-25 percent from Africa. It clearly suggests that besides being dependent upon the West Asia for its oil needs, India considers Africa as a key partner in energy security.”