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India - Africa Relations

Historical Background

Prior to the arrival of colonial powers, the United States' east coast was connected to India and Africa. Trade routes between India's west coast and Africa's east coast were thriving. However, these trades gradually dwindled.

Colonisation harmed contacts and eroded trade confidence. However, India's and Africa's independence accelerated the momentum once more. Despite its leadership in the fight against apartheid, particularly in South Africa, and for decolonization, India's efforts in Africa were limited. However, India maintained its efforts to be Africa's natural ally under the NAM banner.

Due to the dramatic changes that have occurred in both countries over the last half-century or so, India-Africa partnerships exist at a variety of levels in the modern era. Despite civil strife, the African continent has a positive vibe.

The African Renaissance is gaining global attention due to the fact that the majority of African countries have embraced multiparty democracy and Sub-Saharan Africa is home to seven of the world's ten fastest-growing economies.

Economic Relationships

Even India has grown to become one of the world's most powerful economies over the last two decades, laying the groundwork for India-Africa partnerships to reach new heights. The presence of approximately two million Indians on the continent adds to the urgency of engaging Africa.

There are also economic factors to consider, such as the availability of valuable natural resources and the size of Africa's market, which is growing in terms of the middle class. Following the 2008 and 2011 India-Africa Summits, a slew of development initiatives was announced and several steps were taken.

Consider some of the facts that support India's engagement in Africa.

  • Trade increased from US $ 20 billion in 2010 to US $ 53 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach US $ 90 billion in 2015.

  • During the first summit in 2008, India unilaterally offered preferential market access to 34 African least developed countries.

  • India has extended credit lines totalling approximately US$ 10 billion (LOCs).

  • India's MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) has established a dedicated Development Partnership Administration to ensure the effective implementation of projects under LOCs.

  • The successful implementation of the ITEC Program exemplifies India's and Africa's effective South-South cooperation.

  • FOCUS AFRICA was launched by the Ministry of Commerce to promote trade and investment with Sub-Saharan African countries.

Way Forward

The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) is a bilateral assistance programme run by the Indian government. It is a demand-driven, response-oriented programme aimed at meeting the needs of developing countries through India-partnering country Innovative Technological Cooperation.

ITEC covers 158 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and several Pacific and Caribbean nations, as well as its special Commonwealth Assistance for Africa Programme.

Africa's quest for globalisation has been emphasised by both domestic and external forces. Agriculture, industry, and services, as well as the use of monetary and fiscal instruments, are all covered by the Internal Policies Center. External policies interact with measures affecting trade, capital flows, and development assistance, as well as import substitution and export-led growth, capital flows (FDI and portfolio), and public and private grants and loans.

While import substitution may result in labour displacement as demand shifts from domestic to foreign goods and services, export-led growth can help to exist and new industries grow output and employment.

A shift away from the state and toward the market is shaping domestic-external policies.

African economies have been open in this regard, but with unequal bargaining power in comparison to developed countries. Imports of manufactured goods have been dominated by commodity exports, with falling terms of trade, low levels of FDI, declining aid, reliance on developed countries, and limited inter-regional trade and investment. In this context, China and India have forged a path into Africa as developing countries that are more accommodating to African needs. However, India appears to be a better bet than China after careful consideration.

What makes India a better African partner than China?

According to studies, India has outperformed China in terms of hiring local Africans for business ventures. Chinese businesses are known for their low wages and harsh working conditions.

India has a significant advantage over other developing countries in education and information technology, and it can have a significant impact on African development through skill transfer and human resource development.

Online education is one area of ICT that could be particularly beneficial to Africa.

India, along with countries like the United States, is a world leader in this field, with the industry expected to be worth $1 billion by the end of the decade. India's e-Learning solutions are significantly less expensive than those in the United States, and China's curriculum is not based on English.

. India has expertise in a number of areas that Africa could benefit from tapping into in order to address its food security challenges, including small farm mechanisation. Indian investors have already begun planning to grow maize, palm oil, and rice for export in East Africa.

Health care and pharmaceuticals are two areas where India offers a unique development model: a pluralistic, multicultural, democratic structure that is well suited to Africa's diverse ethnic, linguistic, religious, and tribal divisions.

Technology And Science

The Pan African e-network Project is an ICT project between India and the African Union that aims to connect the African Union's 53 member states to India and each other via a satellite and fibre optic network, allowing access to and sharing of expertise in areas such as tele-education, telemedicine, Voice over Internet Protocol, infotainment, resource mapping, meteorological services, and e-governance.

The project, which is expected to extend ICT infrastructure to rural and previously underserved areas, has been dubbed Africa's largest ever in the ICT sector.

The project has been hailed as an example of India using soft diplomacy to advance its economic and strategic interests in Africa, as well as an example of South-South cooperation in bridging Africa's digital divide.

Importance Of Energy

Indian engagement in Africa is primarily driven by mining and hydrocarbons. Over 70% of India's oil comes from the Middle East.

Delhi, on the other hand, is now eager to diversify its crude energy suppliers by increasing the amount of oil it buys from African countries. For this reason, India has been working to strengthen its ties with major oil-producing African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa.

Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, and Sudan are three African countries. South African coal is also imported by India. India's oil imports grew from 22 million tonnes in 2004-05 to more than 35 million tonnes in 2010-11. West African countries' engagement is fueled in part by their energy needs. Africa accounts for roughly a quarter of our crude imports (mainly Nigeria). In addition, India invested in oil equity, that is, in oil and gas blocks in various regions, including Sudan.

Africa has turned its attention to West Africa. The Gulf of Guinea region, which encompasses both the west and east coasts of Africa,

Africa is the world's newest hotspot in the oil industry.

Africa's energy growth potential is thought to be greater than Russia's, the Caspian's, or America's. According to the IJS Energy Information Administration, the region will be producing a million barrels per day by 2030. Team 9 envisages special cooperation amongst the eight West African countries, viz Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote D'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea, Bissau, Mali, Senegal and India.

Political Significance

Apart from economic cooperation, India has regularly contributed troops to African peacekeeping missions. Since 1960, over 100,000 Indian troops have participated in over 40 missions. To be sure, the country has a strategic interest in supporting such measures, as it requires the support of African countries in order to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

These growing ties culminated in April 2008 with the India-Africa Delhi Summit, which was attended by 14 African countries. The objective was to fortify a strong partnership in critical areas such as trade and energy, as well as on global issues such as UN reform, terrorism, and climate change.

Simultaneously, India sought to enlist the assistance of African nations in promoting international peace and security, poverty reduction, human resource development, health, capacity building, and ICT cooperation and partnership. The optimism expressed at the summit was bolstered by a sixfold increase in trade between India and Africa over the preceding five years.

Cultural Significance

Apart from economics, India's expansion into Africa has broader socio-cultural ramifications. Regrettably, India's ignorance of Africa has resulted in distorted images, which are frequently based on colonial narratives and selective reporting on famines, droughts, and wars.

These must be addressed through the dissemination of accurate information and cultural exchange. India's images have tended to obscure the nation's and the majority of its people's difficulties in Africa, based on a mix of romantic Bollywood films and songs, the behaviour of Indian traders, and stories about the country's recent growth.

If both parties benefit economically, there may be opportunities for dialogue and cultural enrichment through their respective cultures. Genuine person-to-person interaction, whether through civil society organisations, information technology, travel, or educational trips, can undoubtedly foster a deeper exchange between the two.

Such actions have the potential to usher in Gandhian notions of ties that transcend material concerns and embrace a more humane, non-exploitative relationship.

India has shared Covid-19 management strategies and training webinars exclusively aimed at training African healthcare professionals by Indian health experts as part of the ITEC Initiative.

What is India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS)?

The official platform for African-Indian relations is the India–Africa Forum Summit (IAFS).

Since 2008, it has been held once every three years.

India has forged ties with the 54 African states through the African Union (AU) by holding India-Africa Forum Summits (IAFS) in places like New Delhi (2008), Addis Ababa (2011), and New Delhi (2015).


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