Challenges/Roadblocks to India-Africa Relations


No clear Strategy/Vision

    • India’s model of development cooperation in Africa lacks a clear strategy
    • While it is increasingly obvious that the postcolonial rhetoric inherited from the Nehru years has limited relevance in the current global economic context, it remains difficult to pinpoint India’s position in contrast with other major players
    • In the absence of a clear and well-articulated vision for Africa, India’s development cooperation is often compared to the Chinese model of development cooperation in the region
    • The flaws of India in this perspective include:
      • India is not actively pursuing any specific development goals
        • Indian LoCs have not been designed to achieve a larger development goal such as food security, health security, clean energy or education for all
        • LoCs are typically used by recipient countries to fund small development projects such as roads, bridges, railway lines, power transmission and water supply systems
      • Further, there is no synchronisation between different development instruments
        • LoCs, grants and capacity building initiatives operate as standalone instruments of development cooperation, with almost no links with each other
        • As a result, the overall development impact of India’s development cooperation is small and difficult to measure

Africa not prime focus for India

    • While Africa is now the focus of India’s foreign policy, it is not the primary focus, given India’s growing economic and security cooperation with the US, the EU and its Asian neighbours

Competing powers in Africa

    • India is not the only external power engaging Africa, developed countries and other emerging powers like China, Brazil and Russia have also been involved in various activities across the continent
    • To a large extent, African countries have welcomed investment in the much neglected areas such as infrastructure and communications that are vital for raising productivity and reducing poverty.
    • The challenge remains as to how the BRICS countries who have different levels of interaction with African countries will develop a common vision regarding cooperation with Africa

Other issues

    • Despite frequent references to Afro-Asian solidarity between the two nations, instances of violence against African students is common in India
      • There have been numerous cases of violence against African students in India and most African students complain of harassment and discrimination, with many leaving India without finishing their studies