It was a new dawn as India successfully hosted its biggest-ever Africa summit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to challenge China’s dominance on a continent that is blessed with vast natural resources and has the world’s fastest-growing population.
It was Modi government’s biggest diplomatic outreach involving delegates from unprecedented number of African nations. New Delhi projected its soft power and historical ties to Africa, in contrast to China’s focus on resource extraction and capital investment that has sparked a backlash in some countries against Beijing’s mercantilist expansion. India’s trading ties with Africa date back to antiquity and both found common cause in the struggle against colonial rule. Yet India’s influence faded over the course of the Cold War as it withdrew into non-aligned isolation. The self-styled chief salesman of a “Make in India” export drive, wants to capitalise on an economic slowdown in China to highlight India as an alternative partner for trade and investment.
The Gains of the Summit: India is the fastest-growing economy. Africa is also experiencing rapid growth too. The summit came at the right time when Africa is facing many challenges like terrorism and piracy while India is desperately expanding their market to effectively compete with China. The summit was a win win situation for both India and Africa. Modi, gave $10 billion concessional lines of credit to Nigeria and 53 other African nations in the next five years to boost their economy. He also said additional grant assistance of ($600m) will be made available to African countries by India. This will include an India-Africa Development Fund of $100million and an India-Africa Health Fund of $10million. It will also include 50,000 scholarships in India over the next five years. And it will support the expansion of Pan-Africa E-Network and institutions of skilling, training and learning across Africa. Nigeria also advanced prisoners transfer agreement with India which will enable both nations to exchange prisoners. This agreement was overdue considering the mutual understanding, friendship and the trade relationship between the two great nations. The Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari also met chief executive officers of leading Indian companies, currently more than 200 Indian companies are operating in Nigeria and contributing immensely to Nigeria economy and in the area of job creation. Nigeria is the leading market in Africa yet it is still a virgin land for Indian investors. The interventions are necessary, economic indices have indicated that this century was for India and Africa to build to shape the world. Apart from abundant natural resources, India and Africa harbour productive youths who are under 35 years. It’s time for India and Africa to take their destinies in their hands and stop living in the shadows of colonialism.