Different messages, different methods

Different messages, different methods


  1. Harsh V. Pant, Director, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Abhishek Mishra, Research Assistant,  analyse how India and China are developing their relations with Africa.

Important Analysis:

2. Africa’s global outreach is changing as not only are African countries seeking other partners but emerging powers in Asia are also growing in self-confidence.

3. Recent visit of PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping  to Africa underscore, both India and China are shaping new narratives of engaging with Africa.

4. PM Modi’ visited Rwanda and Uganda ahead of the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg. While Chinese President visited Senegal , Rwanda and Mauritius.

5. This was PM Modi’s second visit to Africa after his visit to Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya in 2016.

6. In last few years, there have been multiple visits to Africa by the Indian authorities.

7. PM Modi’s visit to Rwanda is the first ever Prime Ministerial visit to the fast-developing East African nation with which India developed its strategic partnership last year.

8. For both China and India, developing economic ties are of paramount importance though Africa’s trading patterns with the Asian giants still remain important.

9. Africa exports raw materials and imports manufactured goods.

10. India-Africa trade grew from $11.9 billion (2005-2006) to $62.66 billion (2017-2018), it is still no match to China, which is now Africa’s largest trading partner ($166 billion in 2011).

11. The Indian private sector has yet to take full advantage of the investment climate in Africa.

12. India’s approach is different from China’s in the following manner:

  • India lays emphasis on the long term enhancing Africa’s productive capacities,
  • Diversifying skills and knowledge,
  • Investing in small- and medium-sized enterprises.
  • However, China’s approach is more traditional, resource-extraction, infrastructure development and elite-level wealth creation.

13. Both India and China are laying emphasis on infrastructure and connectivity projects in priority regions of the world. China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), East Africa and the Indian Ocean Region are key focus areas.

14. Rationale behind India’s cross-border connectivity with Easter African countries:

  • To foster more robust people-to-people connections
  • Increase investment-led trade and business opportunities.
  • Strengthen bilateral partnerships.

15. India’s engagement with Africa:

  • India is also seeking to enhance its cultural links with East Africa under the rubric of Project ‘Mausam’, an initiative of the Ministry of Culture,.
  • The project seeks to revive lost linkages with the Indian Ocean ‘world’ (East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia).
  • India’s African cross-border connectivity has three primary forms:

a) Maritime-port connectivity under the government’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) and the SagarMala initiative;

b) Digital connectivity under the Pan African e-Network project on tele-education and tele-medicine (launched in 2004).

c) Air connectivity in the form of direct flights from Indian cities to African destinations.

d) Recently, PM Modi outlined 10 guiding principles for deepening India’s engagement with Africa to help in its economic growth and tackle challenges such as terrorism and climate change.

e) During his recent visit to Uganda, PM said, Uganda is central to India’s commitment. He also said, Uganda is also known as the “Pearl of Africa” with great wealth of resources and rich heritage.

f) The two nations were connected to each other by ancient maritime links, shared struggle for freedom, PM said.

g) According to PM Modi, India’s engagement with Africa would be guided by 10 principles which are given below:

  • Strengthen our cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism;
  • keeping cyberspace safe and secure;
  • Supporting the UN in advancing and keeping peace.
  • India would work with African nations to keep the oceans open and free for the benefit of all nations.
  • India will harness its experience with digital revolution to support Africa’s development
  • improve delivery of public services;
  • extend education and health;
  • spread digital literacy;
  • Expand financial inclusion; and mainstream the marginalized.

Defence Cooperation:

a) India’s security and defence cooperation with Africa is mainly limited to maritime cooperation in the form of anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia

b) Deployment of Indian forces to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

c) Regular shipping visits

d) Joint-naval patrolling in the Western Indian Ocean Region. These are mainly with Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, and the Indian Ocean island countries Mauritius, the Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros.

e) China supports Africa’s military transformation by providing equipment, advanced technology, and independent capacity-building in security — and the China-Africa Defence and Security Forum is an important development.

16. India, Japan and many African nations have also launched a trilateral initiative:

  • The Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC). The AAGC is a consultative initiative between three equal partners (India, Japan and Africa)
  • To develop ‘industrial corridors’, ‘institutional networks’ for the growth of Asia and Africa,
  • To promote development cooperation.

17. Way ahead:

  • Despite having differences in their approaches both India and China need to develop partnership with African nations in a way that makes Africa a part of their growth story.
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