Many African leaders were in New Delhi this summer for a major investment meeting that brought together 40 ministers from 17 countries, including Burkina Faso, Congo, Cameroon, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon and Malawi.
Organized with the aim of promoting trade relations, the event provided an opportunity to policy makers, bureaucrats and captains of business and industry to deepen the relationship.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that India is one of the leading countries investing in the African continent.
“With a cumulative investment of €73.2 billion from 1996-2021, India is among the top five investors in Africa,” Jaishankar said while addressing the 17th CII-EXIM Bank Conference on India-Africa Growth Partnership.
Jaishankar pointed out that India’s bilateral trade with Africa is expected to reach €88.7 billion in 2021-22 from €57 billion in the previous year and more than 33 of Africa’s least developed nations are eligible to receive benefits under the Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme.
India’s main exports to Africa are refined petroleum products and pharmaceuticals while Africa mainly exports crude oil, gold, coal and other minerals.
The conference has emerged as the largest gathering of senior ministers, policy makers and business leaders from Africa and India, cutting across sectors, and has played an important role in encouraging Indian companies to establish and grow their footprint in Africa.
“The resilience of the Indian and African economies and many new emerging sectors driven by digital technologies and the green economy create a new set of opportunities that businesses on both sides must take advantage of,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General. Confederation of Indian Industry.
Visits of high level dignitaries have enhanced India-Africa relations. So far India has completed 197 projects, 65 projects are under implementation and 81 are in pre-implementation stage.
Over the years, India has financed projects and enjoys a significant symbolic presence in Africa.
“To cite a few examples, in The Gambia, India not only built the National Assembly building but also undertook projects related to water supply, agriculture and food processing,” said Rajan Hershey, 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 plants in exchange for access to markets and resources.
Unlike China, which focuses on building infrastructure and extracting natural resources, India has focused its investments on its core competencies in human resource development, information technology, maritime security, education and healthcare.
Delighted to address the Special Plenary Session of the 17th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Growth Partnership.
The India-Africa agenda will focus more on health, digital and green growth. There are many business opportunities similar to these public policies. pic.twitter.com/9MNUvAYkRc
– Dr. S Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) July 19, 2022
“Indian project construction and financing in Africa is meant to facilitate local participation and development. Indian companies rely more on African talent and build the capacity of the local population,” a senior Nigerian diplomat told RFI.
“The diaspora also plays its own role of bridge between India and Africa.”
About 3 million people of Indian origin live in Africa, of which more than 1 million are in South Africa. There are also large numbers of diaspora Indians in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
India never gets tired of proclaiming its historic ties with Africa. India’s national hero and father of independence, Mahatma Gandhi, also lived in South Africa for a few years at the end of the 19th century.
Like many African countries – especially in East Africa – India faced British colonialism.
India forms the largest contingent of UN peacekeeping missions in Africa and also hopes for Africa’s support in its efforts to secure a permanent seat on the Security Council.
As the world focuses on Africa’s fast-growing economies, the continent is poised for massive growth in all sectors as more investors lobby to share in the continent’s potential.