6 August 2015, ASSOCHAM (Associate Chamber of Commerce and Industry in India) hosted the <g data-gr-id="18">India Africa</g> Dialogue as a precursor to the forthcoming Third <g data-gr-id="19">India Africa</g> Forum Summit in October. This summit was called off in 2012 owing to the Ebola scare in West Africa.
While New Delhi prepares to host the summit this year, business is going to be one of the key issues to be discussed as India tries to catch up with China in its investments in Africa. Where on one hand the Indian businesses are eager to invest in Africa, the Africans are still sceptical whether this really is south-south co-operation or just another scramble for Africa.
Representatives from 24 African embassies attended the ASSOCHAM event and almost all of them pointed out the need for India to increase lines of credit, make transactions easier and invest in areas like IT and healthcare in order to genuinely help the African countries. References to China and its interests in Africa are made at almost every Indo-Africa conference but Elizabeth, First Secretary, Namibia, dismissed these stating bluntly that: “Yes we do business with China. What does it have to do with India?” Many others raised a rhetorical question that if Africa is closer to China than India then China must be giving us something that India is not.
The discontent with India’s Africa policy or its lack of it was clearly seen when Hamza Yahia, Algerian Ambassador, observed: “There are more than 40 African embassies in India and yet at every other event there are less than 20 chairs; this sums up India’s outlook towards Africa.” On a lighter note Stefanus Botes, Economic Counsellor, South Africa High Commission, asked: “When’s the time for Africa?”, referring to PM Modi’s recent foreign trip itinerary which did not include a single African country.