India Close Behind China in the African Continent

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

In May, the second India and Africa Summit was held at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This Summit should lead to the adoption of two documents: the Declaration of Addis Ababa and the Cooperation Plan between India and Africa (which can be found on the official website of the African Union [all links in French unless otherwise indicated].

The Summit has inspired comments from Francophone African bloggers on the competing influences of China and India in Africa. It has also inspired TheLeadersOfTheWorld to post this short satirical video on YouTube:

Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. Image by Agência Brasil, Creative Commons (2.5 Brazil).

Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. Image by Agência Brasil, Creative Commons (2.5 Brazil).

Blog gave the key statistics of the Summit:

India will therefore break its piggybank and cash meters are already going crazy  with a list of loans totalling 2400 billion CFA francs (5 billion USD) for the African continent over the next three years. Moreover, the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, who shares the same vision for the continent, intends to grant a subsidy of 336 billion CFA francs (700 million USD) in grants to Africa.’

Patrice Garner on gives further details on the new projects:

Acts speaking louder than words, and in line with this new partnership, an Institute of information technology will be built in Ghana, another Institute for educational planning in Burundi, an Institute of foreign trade in Uganda and a diamond institute in Botswana.

Indian investments are already visible in the daily life of Africans, reminds Assanatou Baldé on

One of the most important investor  is the Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel, which has disbursed $ 10 billion to access the mobile telephony industry in 15 African countries. Indian car maker Tata trades  in 11 countries on the continent and has the monopoly of public transportation in Uganda and in the district of  Thiès, in Senegal.


A Tata minvan in Africa. Image by Robin Elaine on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

A Tata minvan in Africa. Image by Robin Elaine on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

A debate has opened on the platform Flamme d'Afrique, les autres voix de l’Afrique (Flame of Africa, other African voices) opened by the Panos Institute website, where Ousseini Issa compares the Chinese and Indian approaches in Africa:

The way Delhi manages trade and cooperation with Africa differs from the Chinese way, with a swoop on mainly private local companies, but bought with subsidies from the Indian state, via a merger and acquisition strategy, whereas China favors direct trade with governments. But India also has this feature:  that it tries to develop approaches inclusive of the regional economic institutions such as ECOWAS and SADC. […] the issue is, for many, the prospect of the continent building different relationships from those marking its exploitation for centuries, under  the north-south axis.

Commenter NIBIZI hopes this partnership will herald a new era:

With this new partnership, African leaders should learn a lesson and break away from  the corrupt ways that have plagued the continent. The culture of human rights must come first,  if we want to make the most of the dividends, which will put an end to wars, and the internal power struggles which have prevented Africa from making a good start.

karl is more pragmatic, both confident and worried, wary of a possible ” land grab” [en]:

This summit should be an opportunity for Africa to negotiate ways to collaborate to solve the critical energy issue. But it should also put an end to the lease and sale of African land, while farmers are struggling to access them to help achieve food self-sufficiency and to satisfy their right to housing

On the Radio France International website, an article on the Addis Abeba Summit has also generated comments from readers. They are much more vocal in rejecting “L'indépendance sous haute surveillance” (Independence under strict surveillance, lyrics from a song by African singer Alpha Blondy), which is to say, the post-colonial cooperation model imposed by France.


With India and China arriving on the African continent, we are very proud, because it will help us shoe away the imperialist thieves who have been looting the continent since 1960. […]


[…] I don't see (President of Ivory Coast) Ouattara grant juicy markets to Indians or Chineses and deprive France of them any time soon. Unless he does not wish to stay long in power.

Ma belle Afrique:
The Indian cooperation approach with Africa est more altruist that the one privileged by France under Mr. Sarkozy. From now on, Africans must turn their back to countries which impose governance at gun point.

These forms of cooperation, where Africa's natural resources are coveted by many (Europe and the BRIC countries) cannot be a sustainable solution for the development of this continent. Cooperation must be built around a long term vision that will allow African to  sell some day Tata cars to India, China or France (ok, I'm going overboard here). This involves training young people, democracy, and long term ambitious economic policies, to put an end to the outstretched hand policy (begging) of this continent.

The Addis Ababa summit was also an opportunity for a percussionists band from Rufisque, a city southeast of Dakar, to bring a touch of West African culture in Ethiopia. On, Cherif FAYE announced they had been invited to perform in Ethiopia by the Embassy of India in Senegal:

The “Kër Gi” band from Bargny [should] perform a concert called “Guur Nduuy” which means “léboue tradition”. The “Guur Nduuy” show trace some aspects of the rich immaterial heritage of the léboue community.

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.


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