India not in race with China in Africa outreach: Ansari
Indian vice president who is on a four day visit to African nations, Rwanda and Uganda stated that there exists a remarkable difference in the relationship that India and China have with Africa.
As part of India’s outreach to strengthen relations with Africa, 12 visits have taken place recently. These include visits by the Indian President, Vice President and the Prime Minister.
The recent visits are part of conscious efforts by the Indian government to enhance interaction with countries of the African continent.
Various aspects associated with India-Africa relationship:
- Historical ties which were strengthened due to Indian support towards anti- colonial and anti-racist liberation struggles in Africa
- African leaders were influenced by Indian leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and their ideas
- India’s quest for energy security and essential minerals led to enhanced commercial relationship
- Indian investment both from the public and private sector has increased
- Cooperation in the field of maritime security in the Indian ocean, where India can take up leadership role
- Capacity building programmes which include strengthening of democratic institutions, skill development, information technology etc.
- People to people contact through enhanced cooperation between the people of two countries
- Indian generic drugs which provide a lifeline to African nations
Constraints in India-Africa relationship:
- Racist attacks against Africans in India have taken place in the recent past. Urgent steps should be taken to build trust as this can lead to counter attacks on Indians in Africa and deteriorate ties
- Lack of finance and poor infrastructure acts an impediment to trade and investment
India-Africa relationship through the Chinese prism:
India-Africa trade which stands at $70bn is comparatively lower than Chinese figures at roughly $200bn. As far as trade and investment in Africa is concerned India provides little competition to China.
India has made significant strides in recent times by holding successfully India-Africa forum summit in which heads of all African states participated.
But the Chinese model of development in which involves various restrictions is perceived by the African nations as intrusive and thus African nations are keen to diversify their relationship.
India is not in a competition with China as far as our development cooperation with Africa is concerned. There exists a difference in our style of work and our capacities.
Our developmental cooperation is based on the premise that we let our development partners in Africa to decide how they want to use Indian knowledge and expertise to achieve their aspirations. Though we have financial limitations but the experience so far has been satisfactory.
Going forward African countries are keen to diversify their relationship based on changing global dynamics which will help shape Africa’s position with its traditional and emerging partners.