Sunday, Dec 17, 2017
Government | Asia-Pacific | India

Indian-African Links

India’s expanding foreign relations


2 years ago

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi with members of Indian Border Security Force band performing on decorated camels as heads of states arrive for the 2015 India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, India. (Photo: Narendra Modi)
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In the first of a series of articles on India’s strengthening international relations, The Worldfolio looks at the success of the recent India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) and the huge scope for Indian-African business and trade.

India’s President Pranab Mukherjee has recently hailed the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) as “a historic occasion”, which was held in New Delhi on October 26-29, 2015. This third edition of the event was the first time India had hosted leaders of the entire African continent in a summit meeting together and represents a landmark in Indian-African relations.

Foreign dignitaries from all 54 African countries took part in bolstering strategic and economic partnerships with India, with 40 heads of state or government attending the four-day event, and the remaining 14 being represented by senior ministers. By contrast, the first IAFS in 2008, also in New Delhi, and the second edition in 2011, staged in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, received no more than 15 African leaders.

At the IAFS, India was keen to demonstrate its focus is not just narrowed to crude oil and energy security matters, but on a wide range of new and more intense interactions that are beneficial to both the South Asian nation and foreign partners.

In his opening statement, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi commented: “I am convinced that during this summit, and following the summit, we are going to have very important decisions which will give both India and Africa a new sense of self confidence; our relations are going to become closer and deeper.”


Ministers and heads of state from all 54 African nations came to IAFS 2015 to explore how Indian investment and technology can help a nascent Africa tackle its development challenges, and African minerals can fuel India’s ambitions for major growth. (Photo: Narendra Modi)


India is now Africa’s fourth-largest trading partner, after China, the US and the European Union. Two-way trade between India and Africa has surged from $25 billion in 2006 to now exceeding $70 billion. India’s principal imports from Africa include resources such as crude oil, coal, gemstones and gold, while Indian-made exports such as pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles and processed petroleum products flourish on the continent.

The PM also pointed out that since the first IAFS in 2008, India has committed $7.4 billion in low-interest credits and $1.2 billion in grants to develop African infrastructure, public transport, clean energy, irrigation, agriculture and manufacturing capacity. He highlighted that energy imports from Africa helps fuel the Indian economy, and in turn African prosperity offers a growing market for Indian exports.

Bilateral trade between India and Africa has been growing rapidly and was around $72 billion in March 2015, still short of the government’s $90 billion target but representing a major leap from the $4 billion it stood at 20 years ago. Although it has some way to go to match neighboring China’s two-way trade dealings with Africa, which currently stand at around $200 billion, India wants to ensure that its relations with Africa at least provide its nations with a viable partner of choice in Asia.



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