Insights into Editorial: Bonding with Africa, in partnership
Context: Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC):
Chinese President Xi Jinping grabbed headlines by announcing a hefty $60 billion package for Africa.
African leaders have been naturally expressing overwhelming happiness after Mr. Xi’s announcement in Beijing at the inaugural of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
The 50-plus African leaders and their Chinese hosts charted big plans to build roads, power plants, and railways and much more in Africa.
China’s move will affect on Emerging Economies:
Mr. Xi’s mega announcement should trigger celebrations not only in Africa, but also among heads of the emerging economies, especially those of other nations in the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping.
That is, if they reject the media-hyped argument that China, eyeing Africa’s natural resources, is seeking to ensnare the continent into another round of political serfdom through carefully laden “debt traps”.
Strategies adopted by Indian government:
- Pan African level engagement
- Partnership with regional organization
- Development partnership through IBSA and BRICS
- Bilateral engagement with countries
- Involving Indian communities and Indian Diaspora
Difference in Approaches of India and china towards Africa:
Like China, India also hosts its own triennial conclave with African leaders, which was last held in 2015.
Though headline numbers show that in dollar throughput, it is distant from China, India’s contribution to Africa’s development is nonetheless significant.
If China and India are serious about the rise of Africa, the key is to co-link their development strategies on a continental scale.
The good news is that both countries seem to have done some spadework, in finding an imaginative coordinating mechanism that could benefit them, as well as Africa.
Ahead of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in July, the Chinese Foreign Ministry put out the message that New Delhi and Beijing should vigorously pursue the ‘China-India Plus One’ or ‘China-India Plus X’ model in engaging with Africa.
The mandarins in Beijing were referring to the mechanism yielded by the Wuhan informal summit, where it was decided that China and India would coordinate their approaches for engaging a third country or set of countries in South Asia and beyond.
The Chinese also described Beijing and New Delhi as “like-minded partners” in Africa.
Meanwhile Russia has already launched an initiative to bond with Africa.
India has comparative edge over China in Africa:
Amid increasing Chinese influence over the mineral and hydro-carbon rich Africa, India too has intensified its efforts to strengthen ties with the continent.
India has extended Line of Credit worth millions of dollars in varied areas to the African countries.
India has a “comparative advantage” over China in building connectivity projects and trade corridors in Africa due to its compatibility and proximity to the continent.
India and many African countries focussing on stepping up cooperation in trade and investment, defence and security and oil gas sectors among others.
The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ is a recognition of India’s pivotal role in establishing trading regimes and rules-based maritime freedom of navigation, and noted that Africa “counts” on India to play a very important part strategically and politically for the same.
The Chinese are subsidising the construction of their infrastructure requirements to enable the Chinese investors to come.
Many African countries opined that the Chinese were “outdating” certain “sunset” industries and moving towards high gear industrialisation to make machines which manufacture machines.
India is a “pivot” in the Indo-Pacific region and it has “played a critical role in creating a conducive maritime regime” for a rules-based freedom of navigation.
South Africa, the host of the recent BRICS summit and co-chair of FOCAC in Beijing, will always remain the natural gateway for a vibrant emerging economy engagement with Africa.
A post-Wuhan India must pick up the threads and weave a potent emerging economy narrative for bonding with Africa, triggering a structural shift of global significance.
The African countries are set to launch the African Continental Free Trade Area or AfCFTA, the biggest free trade agreement in the world since the World Trade Organization was created in the 1990s.
When implemented, the AfCFTA is projected to increase intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by 2022, from 2010 levels.
In turn, higher trade levels can facilitate economic growth, transform domestic economies, and help the countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The AFCFTA will provide a number of opportunities for the Indian firms and investors to tap into a larger, unified, simplified and more robust African market.
It is critical for India to view Africa not just as a destination for short-term returns but as a partner for medium and long-term economic growth.