Scaling A New Summit

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Vast energy reserves make Africa a continent of interest for China, apart from the western countries, who are still major players in the continent. China’s engagement in Africa is much more than India’s which stood at around $200 billion in 2014-15.

Besides, China has invested more than $ 180 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa alone in areas ranging from energy to infrastructure during the period 2005-2015.

However, the approach of the two Asian countries in fulfilling their energy demand is different. China’s engagement in Africa is dominated by state-owned enterprises and aggressive market entry strategy whereas India’s involvement is mainly through private businesses.

“India is a democratic capitalist, so participation of private players is definitely more in Africa, whereas China has established its state-owned enterprises, which are cash rich. Therefore, the functioning of the two countries is totally different,” says Chand.

China is not only a big investor in Africa’s oil industry, but it also has access to ports and airfields in Africa. This is a huge concern for India as it is heavily reliant on sea imports and is grappling with the problem of securing the country’s growing oil demand.

Fu Xiaoqiang, a researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told Global Times, “The African market is huge, and there is no competition or contradictions between China and India in their roles in Africa.”

He also said that China has an advantage in infrastructure construction, while India, based on historic ties, has forged ties with Africa on the basis of culture, labour and information technology. Notably, both China and India face challenges to their investments in Africa owing to security issues, low local labour capacity and poor governmental standards.

Two declarations have been signed so far and India has given $10 billion as LOC to African countries. Interestingly, the LOC has been extended this time in comparison to the last two summits. The hitch, however, is in the slow execution and monitoring of the projects for which money has been disbursed.

Modi at the conclusion of the summit said, “We are conscious of the shadow that falls between an idea and action, between intention and implementation. So, implementation will be as important as starting projects. We will strengthen our monitoring system. This will include a Joint Monitoring Mechanism with the African Union.”

In the last two summits many promises were made, some of them yet to be delivered. So, this time it has to be ensured that whatever is proposed is delivered within the given time frame. It is good to be ambitious but the project should also be completed on time.

“Over the last two summits, India promised around 100 training institutes, but only 40 have taken off the ground. True, these projects are built on a co-ownership model and the gestation period is long, but looking ahead, the focus should be to make only those promises which can be delivered on time,” says Chand.

However, Dubey says, “The newer areas of future cooperation will utilise Indian diaspora and the hitherto unexplored Francophone and Lusophone territories, which are rich in energy resources.”

Meanwhile, the climate issue remains a major concern for India as there was immense pressure from western powers to reduce carbon emission. However, political instability and the threat of terrorism are proving to be major roadblocks for India’s economic strategies in the African continent.

archana.mishra@tehelka.com

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