International Relations

Why Indian leaders, including Modi, are lining up to visit African countries

India now sees Africa as a promising market for Indian goods, services, and investments.

India’s relationship with Africa has been through an unprecedented intensification in June 2016. In the first week of the month, Vice President Hamid Ansari visited Tunisia and Morocco. In the second week, President Pranab Mukherjee embarked on a tour of western and southern Africa, covering Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Namibia. And in July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and South Africa.

The present renewed outreach is also unabashedly about business, and a good example of geo-politics combining with geo-economics. India views Africa as a promising market for Indian goods, services, and investments. So far though, any follow-up on promises had remained anaemic. Now, Indian leaders are seeking out fresh investment opportunities for Indian public and private sector companies in different African countries.

The vice president’s visits to Morocco and Tunisia are crucial because India imports phosphate – a critical raw material for fertiliser production – from these countries. Ansari also inaugurated an India-Morocco Chamber of Commerce during his trip to Rabat.

The president’s three-country tour provided an opportunity to further India’s business interests. At the India-Ghana Business Forum, Mukherjee said: “…the Indian Government would be ready to work with you in key sectors and areas of common interest and encourage Indian private as well as public entrepreneurs to bring more investments into Ghana.”India’s cumulative investments in Ghana are over $1 billion and two-way trade during 2015-16 amounted to $3 billion.

In Cote d’Ivoire, Mukherjee said: “…your country is blessed with fertile soil and abundant agricultural and mineral resources. Our public and private sectors are keen to join you in exploring these resources efficiently and in setting up agro-based industries.”

At the same time, India’s development diplomacy for the continent has been through a strategic shift. Exim Bank, for example, is now likely to focus more on service exports, rather than compete with China for infrastructure projects in Africa.

Global ambitions

The bank is looking to disburse close to Rs 10,000 crore in Africa over the next three years as both commercial and concessional credit. Service exports aim to build on India’s traditional strengths in Africa and will include healthcare, education, and information technology services. Exim inaugurated an office in Cote d’Ivoire during Mukherjee’s visit. The office is expected to widen the bank’s footprint in West Africa.

Exim Bank is also looking to sharpen its focus on another area of India’s traditional exports to Africa: project exports. It has requested the Reserve Bank of India to ease regulatory and compliance guidelines regarding minimum equity capital, leverage (the multiples – 3X, 4X or 8X – of share capital that a company can borrow) and the maximum that the bank can lend to a single borrower. These will be necessary if the bank is to make project exports one of its thrust areas.

These actions are in line with promises made during the Third India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015. The first two editions of the summit – in 2008 and 2011 – made numerous pledges but fell short on follow-up and delivery. Both sides were responsible for the indifferent implementation.

The last IAFS, held in October 2015, saw a strategic shift in focus – apart from the usual rhetoric, there was a better alignment of India’s global ambitions (both political and geo-economic) and traditional strengths. Importantly, the third IAFS created a formal monitoring mechanism to regularly review the progress of various projects at different stages of completion.

The summit aimed high – it also sought to create a global alliance of solar-rich countries. Such an alliance will help create goodwill for India among Africa countries, and generate solidarity through collective bargaining when accessing IPR-protected technology from rich countries.

It’s starting with this summit that Modi has been building bridges with different African countries and soliciting support for a host of multilateral initiatives. These include backing for India’s membership of the UN Security Council along with a united front of emerging and poor economies at the World Trade Organisation.

The high-octane official Africa engagements will also help assuage concerns regarding India after recent allegedly racist incidents involving African nationals living in the country. But it is now up to India to ensure that its belated recognition of the critical role Africa can play in our strategic calculus, as well as in India’s trade and investment expansion plans, is not just a temporary spurt.

This article was first published by Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. You can read the original article here.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Get ready for an 80-hour shopping marathon

Here are some tips that’ll help you take the lead.

Starting 16th July at 4:00pm, Flipkart will be hosting its Big Shopping Days sale over 3 days (till 19th July). This mega online shopping event is just what a sale should be, promising not just the best discounts but also buying options such as no cost EMIs, buyback guarantee and product exchanges. A shopping festival this big, packed with deals that you can’t get yourself to refuse, can get overwhelming. So don’t worry, we’re here to tell you why Big Shopping Days is the only sale you need, with these helpful hints and highlights.

Samsung Galaxy On Nxt (64 GB)

A host of entertainment options, latest security features and a 13 MP rear camera that has mastered light come packed in sleek metal unibody. The sale offers an almost 40% discount on the price. Moreover, there is a buyback guarantee which is part of the deal.

Original price: Rs. 17,900

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Samsung 32 inches HD Ready LED TV

Another blockbuster deal in the sale catalogue is this audio and visual delight. Apart from a discount of 41%, the deal promises no-cost EMIs up to 12 months.

Original price: Rs. 28,890

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Intel Core I3 equipped laptops

These laptops will make a thoughtful college send-off gift or any gift for that matter. Since the festive season is around the corner, you might want to make use of this sale to bring your A-game to family festivities.

Original price: Rs. 25,590

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 21,900

Fashion

If you’ve been planning a mid-year wardrobe refresh, Flipkart’s got you covered. The Big Shopping Days offer 50% to 80% discount on men’s clothing. You can pick from a host of top brands including Adidas and Wrangler.

With more sale hours, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale ensures we can spend more time perusing and purchasing these deals. Apart from the above-mentioned products, you can expect up to 80% discount across categories including mobiles, appliances, electronics, fashion, beauty, home and furniture.

Features like blockbuster deals that are refreshed every 8 hours along with a price crash, rush hour deals from 4-6 PM on the starting day and first-time product discounts makes this a shopping experience that will have you exclaiming “Sale ho to aisi! (warna na ho)”

Set your reminders and mark your calendar, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days starts 16th July, 4 PM and end on 19th July. To participate in 80 hours of shopping madness, click here.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Flipkart and not by the Scroll editorial team.