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"Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness."
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Sept. 26, 1896 - Vol. I, pp. 409-410

India - Africa Relations

India's outreach to China in 2015 was seen in some quarters as a belated attempt to catch up with China's rising economic influence in Africa. Some said India was on the threshold of helping the continent shrug off its colonial past (similar to how India emerged from the shadow of British rule to be the fastest growing economy in the world) and emerging the biggest trading partner of Africa. The shared colonial past and the strong desire and commitment to emerge as world leaders in trade were seen by some as creating a level-paying field for India and Africa to formulating mutually beneficial and long-lasting business ties.

South Africa was host in December 2015 to the the sixth Forum on China-Africa Corporation (FOCAC) – a ministerial level meeting that had been particularly popular among African leaders given China’s strong economic role in the region. China said on 30 October 2015 that it did not see competition with India in Africa as New Delhi stepped up its engagement with the continent hosting the biggest ever India-Africa Summit.

As China’s economic slowdown impacted ties with Africa, India was seeking to step in and boost political and economic relations with the continent. China's trade with the continent reached $ 222 billion in 2014, more than three times India's $70 billion. Much of China's trade is backed by state-run enterprises with financial muscle, contrasting India's presence which is dominated by private companies who find it difficult to compete with China's state-backed behemoths.

The Heads of State and Government and Heads of Delegation representing the continent of Africa, the African Union (AU) and its Institutions, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, met in New Delhi, India on 29 October 2015 for the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, the largest such summits even hosted by India.

On 29 October 2015 Prime Minister Minister Narendra Modi announced a credit of $10 billion to Africa which will be in addition to the ongoing credit program. To add strength to our partnership, India will offer concessional credit of $10 billion over the next five years. This will be in addition to our ongoing credit programme," said Modi. He was speaking on the last day of the India-Africa Summit Forum.

Modi also pledged an assistance of $600 million to the continent and 50,000 scholarships for African students in India. "We will also offer a grant assistance of $600 million. This will include an India-Africa Development Fund of $100 million and an India-Africa Health Fund of $10 million," Modi said. "It will also include 50,000 scholarships in India over the next five years. And, it will support the expansion of the Pan Africa E-Network and institutions of skilling, training and learning across Africa." he added.

India's appeal for Africa surged reently due to its higher economic growth trajectory and international standing earned by Modi. With China no longer flourishing, India looked more attractive to Africans who were trying to cope with a lull in mineral exports to China and growing concerns about China's ability to keep investing in Africa.

This longstanding and multifaceted Africa-India relationship has fashioned a development partnership based on equality, friendship, mutual benefit and solidarity which represents South-South Cooperation in all its dimensions. This partnership encompasses human resource development through scholarships, training, capacity building, financial assistance through grants and concessional credit to implement various public-interest projects including for education, healthcare and infrastructure, trade preferences, technology collaborations, humanitarian, financial and in kind assistance in emergency situations, deployment of peacekeeping troops, collective negotiations in multilateral fora for common causes and concerns, among others.

Africa-India trade has multiplied in the last 15 years and doubled in the last five years to reach nearly US$ 72 billion in 2014-2015. There is growing investment by Indian companies, both multinational and SMEs, in Africa in a range of sectors. These include telecommunication, hydrocarbon exploration, agriculture, light manufacturing, IT and IT- enabled services, IT education, water treatment and supply management, petroleum refining and retail, chemicals, drugs & pharmaceuticals, coal, automobiles, floriculture, engineering consultancy and management, paper, textiles, among others.

The common characteristics of the African and Indian societies insofar as being multi-ethnic and multi-religious as well as the similar societal values have quite naturally cemented the bonds of friendship between the African and Indian peoples over the centuries.

Various parts of the vast African continent have played host to Indian settlers in modern times for almost a hundred and fifty years. They found themselves transplanted there, whether voluntarily or otherwise, mainly following the British colonial empire’s extension into the numerous constituent countries of Africa.

Most accounts of the Indian presence in East Africa normally start with a reference to The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. Written during the first century A.D. by an anonymous author, this epic work is a kind of merchants’ guide to the Western Indian Ocean. From this and other such writings, it is evident that Indian merchants had been plying their trade through the Indian Ocean during the days of ancient Babylon. They had even established trading posts along the coast of East Africa.

As in South Africa, the saga of the Indian settlers in East Africa is a mixture of success and frustration. Their induction into this part of the burgeoning British empire of the 19th century began in the late 1860s with the export of over 30,000 Indians – mostly Sikhs from the Punjab – on three year contracts to provide labor for various public works. The hardy Sikhs, with their indomitable spirit, earned for themselves the title of kala singhas (or black lions) for their courage.

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Page last modified: 15-12-2018 18:46:59 ZULU