A number of African leaders was in New Delhi for a key investment meeting this summer that brought together 40 ministers from 17 countries including Burkina Faso, Congo, Cameroon, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon and Malawi among others.
The event aimed at boosting commercial relations ffered an opportunity to policymakers, bureaucrats and captains of business and industry to deepen ties.
Foreign minister S. Jaishankar said that India was among the leading countries that have invested in the African continent.
“With cumulative investments at €73.2 billion from 1996-2021, India is among the top five investors in Africa,” Jaishankar said while addressing the 17th CII-EXIM bank conclave on India-Africa Growth Partnership.
Jaishankar pointed out that India’s bilateral trade with Africa had reached €88.7 billion in 2021-22 compared with €57 billion the previous year and that over 33 of Africa’s least developed nations have been entitled to get benefits under the Duty Free Tariff Preference scheme.
#India is the fifth largest investor in #Africa with cumulative investments of US$ 54 billion. Check out the steady increase in #IndiaAfrica #Trade.Watch the CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership: https://t.co/zlhDnqAWz5 pic.twitter.com/g7ueLQpVYs— Confederation of Indian Industry (@FollowCII) August 18, 2021
India’s main exports to Africa are refined petroleum products and pharmaceuticals while Africa primarily exports crude oil, gold, coal and other minerals.
The conclave has emerged as one of the largest congregations of senior ministers, policy makers and business leaders from Africa and India, cutting across sectors, and played a pivotal role in encouraging Indian companies to establish and grow their footprint in Africa.
“The resilience of the Indian and African economies and the many new emerging sectors driven by digital technologies and the green economy create a new set of opportunities that the businesses of both sides must leverage to the optimum,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry.
Visits of high-level dignitaries have been cementing the Indo-African ties. So far, India has completed 197 projects, while 65 projects are under execution and 81 are in the pre-execution stage.
Over the years, India has funded projects and enjoyed a significant symbolic presence in Africa.
“Just to cite a few instances, in The Gambia, India has not merely built National Assembly Building but undertaken projects related to water supply, agriculture, and food processing,” said Rajan Hershe, former vice-chancellor of Allahabad University.
“It is also building the presidential palace in Ghana, the first milk factory in Djibouti and power projects in Sudan and Rwanda.”
Over the past decade, Beijing has pumped billions of dollars into Africa, building roads, bridges and power installations in return for access to markets and resources.
Unlike China which has concentrated on creating infrastructure and in extracting natural resources, India through its investments, has focused on its core competencies of human resources development, information technology, maritime security, education and health care.
Delighted to address the Special Plenary of the 17th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Growth Partnership.The India-Africa agenda will focus increasingly on health, digital and green growth. These are as much business opportunities as they are public policies. pic.twitter.com/9MNUvAYkRc— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) July 19, 2022
“Indian project construction and financing in Africa is aimed at facilitating local participation and development. Indian companies rely more on African talent and do capacity building of the local population,” a senior diplomat from Nigeria told RFI.
“The diaspora also plays its own bridging role between India and Africa.”
Africa is home to about 3 million Indian-origin people, with more than 1 million of them in South Africa. Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda also have large numbers of diaspora Indians.
India does not tire of proclaiming its historical ties to Africa. India’s national hero and father of independence, Mahatma Gandhi, even lived for a few years in South Africa at the end of the 19th century.
Like many African countries – especially in eastern Africa – India suffered under British colonialism.
India makes up one of the largest contingents of the UN peace missions in Africa and is also hoping for Africa’s support in its efforts to gain a permanent seat on the Security Council.
As the world focuses on Africa’s fast growing economies, the continent is poised for massive development in all sectors as numerous investors lobby for a share in the continent’s prospects.