Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

The Flaring Conflict in Eastern Congo | Explained


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: African Continent

Mains level: Recent Geopolitical issues

Why in the news? 

  • Renewed clashes in eastern DRC between the Congolese army and Rwandan-backed M23 rebels have raised global concerns.


  • The conflict exacerbates the humanitarian crisis in the region, with increased fatalities, displacements, and food security risks.
  • The United Nations and several Western countries denounce the attacks and urge the M23 rebels to halt their offensive

What is the conflict?

  • Origin: Conflict in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) stems from the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, where extremist Hutus killed hundreds of thousands of minority ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates.
  • Refugee Crisis: Following the genocide, around two million Rwandan refugees fled to eastern Congo, leading to tensions between local Congolese and Rwandan emigrants.
  • First Congo War: Ethnic tensions escalated into the First Congo War, pitting Zairean soldiers against Tutsi militias and the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL), supported by Rwanda and Uganda.
  • Political Changes: The AFDL captured Kinshasa, leading to the renaming of Zaire as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1997.
  • Africa’s World War: The Second Congo War erupted in 1998, characterized as “Africa’s world war,” involving various armed groups, including the Rwanda-backed rebel group, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD).
    • Despite multiple peace agreements, violence persists in the region, making it one of the deadliest conflicts since World War II.

Who are the M23 rebels?

  • Formation of  M23 rebels: The March 23 Movement (M23) was formed in 2012 to defend Tutsi interests against Hutu militias, stemming from a 2009 ceasefire agreement. It broke away from the Congolese army, accusing the government of failing to integrate Tutsis.
  • Recent Resurgence: M23 resurged in 2022, citing attacks by Hutu militias. Recent attacks near Goma have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, leading to protests urging Rwanda’s withdrawal of support.
  • Escalating Tensions: Violence has strained relations between the DRC and Rwanda, with the DRC accusing Rwanda of backing M23 rebels. Rwanda denies these allegations and attributes the escalation to Congo’s decision to send back regional peacekeepers.
  • Potential Regional Escalation: The worsening violence raises concerns about regional tensions and the involvement of more countries. Attacks on civilian settlements have caused significant casualties and forced health and aid workers to withdraw.

Measures to resolve these issues- 

  • Regional Cooperation: Foster cooperation among neighboring countries to address cross-border security challenges and prevent the spread of violence. Establishing joint patrols and intelligence-sharing mechanisms can enhance security along shared borders.
  • Peacekeeping Missions: Increased peacekeeping efforts can help stabilize conflict-affected areas and create conducive conditions for peace talks.
  • Socio-Economic Development: Invest in socio-economic development initiatives in conflict-affected areas to address underlying drivers of instability and marginalization. Providing livelihood opportunities, access to education, healthcare, and infrastructure can help alleviate poverty and promote social cohesion.
  • Disarmament and Reintegration: Implement effective disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs which should include vocational training, psychosocial support, and community-based reconciliation efforts.
  • International Support: Mobilize international support and Regional organizations, donor countries, and civil society actors to provide timely and coordinated assistance to affected populations.


The conflict in eastern DRC, fueled by historical grievances and ethnic tensions, requires diplomatic engagement, regional cooperation, peacekeeping missions, comprehensive peace agreements, socio-economic development, disarmament, international support to achieve lasting peace and stability.

Mains PYQ-

The anti-colonial struggles in West Africa were led by the new elite of Western-educated Africans. Examine. (UPSC IAS/2016)

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Burkina, Mali, Niger quit West African bloc ECOWAS


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ECOWAS

Mains level: Read the attached story



  • The military regimes in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger announced their immediate withdrawal from the West African bloc ECOWAS.

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Establishment Regional intergovernmental organization established in 1975.
Objectives Aims to foster economic integration, cooperation, and development among West African nations.
Headquarters Secretariat headquartered in Abuja, Nigeria.
Member States 15 member states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Togo.
Primary Goals & Objectives
  • Promoting economic integration among member states.
  • Facilitating the free movement of people, goods, and services.
  • Enhancing regional cooperation in various sectors.
  • Fostering a borderless region governed by democratic principles and good governance.
  • Addressing security and political challenges through collaboration and conflict resolution.
Achievements & Initiatives
  • Establishment of ECOMOG peacekeeping force for conflict resolution.
  • Launching the ECOWAS Single Currency Initiative for economic integration.
  • Supporting efforts to combat terrorism, human trafficking, and organized crime.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

India to host second Voice of Global South Summit


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Voice of Global South Summit

Mains level: NA

global south

Central Idea

  • Prime Minister will inaugurate the second Voice of Global South Summit. This will be the second Voice of Global South Summit in less than a year hosted by India.

What is the Voice of Global South Summit?

  • The VoGS Summit is a Indian initiative that has been designed to provide a common platform for the countries of the Global South to share their perspectives and priorities on several major issues.
  • It aims to find out solutions for common challenges faced by developing countries through talks.
  • Inspired by PM’s vision, ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas Sabka Vishwas aur Sabka Prayas’, the summit follows India’s philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.

How did the summit start?

  • The foundation of this unique initiative was laid considering the recent global developments that have severely impacted the developing world.
  • These include events such as Covid pandemic, mounting debt, ongoing Ukraine conflict, and challenges of food, energy security and others.
  • Often, the worries of developing countries do not gain adequate attention and space on the global stage.
  • The relevant existing platforms have proven to be deficient in handling the challenges and concerns of the developing nations.

About Global South

  • Global South refers to countries in Asia, Africa, and South America, while Global North includes countries like the US, Canada, Europe, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • It’s a term used to categorize countries based on economic development and historical factors.

Features of Global South

  • Mostly lower-income countries, often with colonial histories.
  • Not strictly limited to the Southern Hemisphere; many are in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Used as a value-free alternative to “Third World.”
  • Major countries like Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico are part of the Global South.

Need for Classification

  • Helps describe economic and geopolitical differences.
  • Overcomes the limitations of East/West or First/Second/Third World classifications.
  • Recognizes the shared history of colonization.
  • Acknowledges the emergence of economically powerful South countries.

Indian Context

  • India aims to represent the underrepresented Global South in international forums.
  • Calls for reform in multilateral institutions like the UNSC, UN, and IMF.
  • Emergent economies like India and China seek cooperation with other Global South countries.
  • Challenges the dominance of the Global North in international affairs.

Criticism of Classification

  • Some find the term too broad and vague.
  • Questions about whether elites of the Global South aim to challenge global capitalist structures.
  • Concerns about the neglect of Africa in the rise of Asia.

Significance of Global South

  • India aims to unite Global South nations to address common concerns.
  • Potential for technical and idea exchanges and cooperation in various areas.
  • Highlighting shared concerns like energy security and sustainable development.

Challenges for Consolidation

  • Debate over climate reparations and exclusion of India and China.
  • Impact of the Russia-Ukraine War on Least Developed Countries.
  • China’s increasing influence in the Global South through initiatives like the Belt and Road.

Way Forward

  • India needs active engagement in regional politics within the Global South.
  • Recognize differentiation within the Global South in terms of wealth, needs, and capabilities.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

ECOWAS and Niger Coup: Challenges and Potential Responses


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ECOWAS

Mains level: Read the attached story


Central Idea

  • The recent coup in Niger has brought the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) into the spotlight as it grapples with responding to the political crisis in the region.
  • As Niger faces economic hardships and military intervention by regional players looms, the role of ECOWAS is under scrutiny.

Understanding ECOWAS

  • Formation and Membership: Established in 1975, ECOWAS aims to foster economic integration among its 15 member countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, and more.
  • Objective: The organization envisions a borderless region based on democratic principles and good governance.
  • Economic Goals: ECOWAS seeks to create a unified trading bloc, single currency, and enhanced cooperation in sectors such as industry, energy, and telecommunications.

ECOWAS in Conflict Resolution

  • Regional Peacekeeping: ECOWAS has played a role in resolving conflicts by deploying peacekeeping missions. Notable examples include ECOMOG’s involvement in Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 1990s and early 2000s.
  • Gambia Crisis: In 2017, ECOWAS intervened in Gambia, ensuring the peaceful transfer of power after then-President Yahya Jammeh refused to step down following an election defeat.
  • Challenges and Successes: While ECOWAS has effectively resolved conflicts in some cases, it faces challenges due to differing interests among member countries and evolving security threats.

ECOWAS’s Response to Niger Coup

  • Potential Military Intervention: ECOWAS has hinted at possible military intervention in Niger. However, regional challenges, including shared borders with other military-led nations, could complicate intervention plans.
  • Support for Coups: Some military coups in West Africa have been justified by leaders citing terrorism and security challenges, accusing civilian governments of inadequacy.
  • Security Situation: The ECOWAS Commission President reported a significant rise in terrorist attacks in the region, with a substantial death toll and refugees fleeing the violence.

Economic Measures and Sanctions

  • Economic Sanctions: ECOWAS has previously imposed economic sanctions on countries undergoing political turmoil. However, the efficacy of these measures is questionable, especially when nations are grappling with economic difficulties.
  • France’s Role: France’s historical ties to Niger and the presence of foreign troops have fueled local sentiments against foreign involvement, creating complexities for potential interventions.

Challenges and Dilemmas

  • Leadership Dynamics: The current chairman of ECOWAS, Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, advocates for military intervention in Niger. However, internal opposition and conflicting interests within ECOWAS member states complicate decision-making.
  • Complexity of the Situation: The unique circumstances of each nation undergoing turmoil require tailored responses. The Niger coup’s leader, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, has a history with ECOWAS peacekeeping missions.


  • ECOWAS’s response to the Niger coup underscores the complexity of regional dynamics, the challenges of military intervention, and the delicate balance between security and democratic governance.
  • As the organization grapples with finding an effective solution, its role as a mediator and peacekeeping force in West Africa continues to evolve in response to the changing geopolitical landscape.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Unveiling Nigeria’s Complex Reality: Balancing Progress and Persistent Challenges


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Nigeria's global significance and recent transfer of power, challenges, India's stakes


Central Idea

  • On May 29 Bola Ahmed Tinubu sworn in as Africa’s most populous nation Nigeria’s 16th Executive President, solidifying a quarter-century of unbroken constitutional democracy. Despite this achievement, Nigeria faces persistent challenges hindering the realization of its socio-economic potential. Insecurity, high unemployment, corruption, and inadequate infrastructure continue to impede progress.

What is mean by Yin-and-Yang Moment?

  • The Yin-and-Yang Moment is a term used to describe a situation in which two opposing forces are in balance.
  • The concept of Yin and Yang is a central one in Chinese philosophy, and it is often used to explain the natural world. In the context of the Yin-and-Yang Moment, the two opposing forces could be anything from economic growth and security challenges to social progress and political instability.
  • In the context of Nigeria, this could refer to the country’s growing economy and its ongoing security challenges.

What are the persistent Challenges for Nigeria?

  • Insecurity: Nigeria has long grappled with various security challenges, including Boko Haram insurgency, mass kidnappings, ethnic conflicts, and petty robberies. These security issues undermine social stability, economic growth, and investor confidence.
  • High Unemployment: Nigeria faces a significant unemployment crisis, particularly among its youth population. The lack of job opportunities and underemployment contribute to social unrest, poverty, and hinder overall economic development.
  • Corruption: Corruption remains a pervasive problem in Nigeria, affecting various sectors, including politics, business, and public services. Rampant corruption erodes public trust, hampers development efforts, and undermines effective governance.
  • Poverty and Education Gap: Nigeria has the largest number of people living below the poverty line globally, with a significant portion being children. Access to quality education remains limited, resulting in a high number of out-of-school children, hindering their future prospects and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
  • Energy and Infrastructure Deficit: Nigeria struggles with inadequate infrastructure, particularly in the power sector. Despite efforts, the country’s power generation capacity remains insufficient to meet the demands of its growing population and economy. Insufficient infrastructure in transportation, healthcare, and other sectors further limits development opportunities.
  • Oil Sector Challenges: Nigeria heavily relies on oil exports for revenue, but the sector faces numerous challenges. Oil theft, bunkering, and operational inefficiencies in refineries contribute to revenue loss and hinder the development of a sustainable and diversified economy.
  • Governance and Political Instability: Nigeria has experienced political instability and governance challenges in the past. Effective governance, transparency, and accountability are crucial for addressing socio-economic issues and fostering sustainable development.

Proposed Solutions to address these challenges

  • Enhancing Security: Implement comprehensive security measures to address the various security challenges Nigeria faces. This includes strengthening law enforcement agencies, improving intelligence gathering and sharing, enhancing border control, and investing in counter-terrorism efforts.
  • Job Creation and Economic Growth: Promote an enabling business environment to stimulate economic growth and job creation. This involves reducing bureaucratic hurdles, providing incentives for entrepreneurship, and fostering a conducive environment for local and foreign investments.
  • Anti-Corruption Measures: Implement robust anti-corruption initiatives to tackle corruption at all levels of society. Whistleblower protection mechanisms can encourage reporting of corruption and help in its prevention.
  • Education and Poverty Alleviation: Prioritize investments in education and skills development, ensuring access to quality education for all children. Addressing the education gap and reducing the number of out-of-school children will improve human capital development and empower individuals to break the cycle of poverty.
  • Infrastructure Development: Invest in critical infrastructure, including power generation, transportation networks, healthcare facilities, and water and sanitation systems. Public-private partnerships can mobilize resources and expertise to bridge infrastructure gaps.
  • Diversification of the Economy: Reduce dependence on oil exports by promoting economic diversification. Encourage sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and information technology to contribute significantly to the economy.
  • Governance Reforms: Strengthen governance institutions, promote transparency, and ensure accountability at all levels of government. Enhance public service delivery, streamline bureaucratic processes, and foster citizen participation in decision-making. Strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law will contribute to stability, effective governance, and socio-economic development.


Key aspects of India’s stake in Nigeria

  • Economic Partnership: India and Nigeria have a strong economic partnership. Nigeria has traditionally been one of India’s largest trading partners in Africa. Strengthening economic ties with Nigeria provides India access to natural resources, including oil and gas, as well as opportunities for trade and investment.
  • Indian Diaspora: Nigeria is home to a large Indian diaspora, with over 50,000 people of Indian origin residing in the country. The Indian community in Nigeria contributes to trade, entrepreneurship, and cultural exchanges, fostering people-to-people ties between the two nations.
  • Trade and Investment: India has significant investments in Nigeria across various sectors, including telecommunications, manufacturing, agriculture, and banking. Strengthening trade relations and diversifying the bilateral trade basket can benefit both economies and create new avenues for economic cooperation.
  • Technology and Expertise: Nigeria values India’s appropriate technology solutions, which are often seen as well-suited to local conditions. Indian expertise in sectors such as information technology, healthcare, agriculture, and education can contribute to Nigeria’s development efforts and capacity building.
  • Defense Cooperation: Defense cooperation between India and Nigeria has a rich history. Nigeria has had several past presidents who were trained in India’s defense institutions. Reviving and enhancing defense ties can promote bilateral defense industry cooperation, training programs, and exchange of expertise in areas of mutual interest.
  • Regional Influence: Nigeria’s influence extends beyond its borders, particularly within the West African region. Strengthening relations with Nigeria allows India to engage more effectively in regional initiatives, enhance trade partnerships with neighboring countries, and contribute to regional stability and development.
  • Energy Security: Nigeria’s role as a major oil producer and exporter is of significance to India’s energy security. Cooperation in the energy sector, including oil exploration, refining, and renewable energy, can help diversify India’s energy sources and ensure a stable supply of energy resources.
  • Multilateral Engagement: Nigeria’s active participation in regional and international organizations provides an opportunity for India and Nigeria to collaborate on issues of mutual concern, including climate change, counterterrorism, peacekeeping, and global governance reforms.

Nigeria’s global significance

  • Population and Demographics: Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and is projected to have a population of over 400 million by 2050, becoming the world’s fourth most populous country. This demographic trend has significant implications for global population dynamics, labor markets, and consumption patterns.
  • Economic Powerhouse: Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and has substantial natural resources, including oil and gas reserves. As an important player in the global energy market, fluctuations in Nigeria’s oil production and exports can impact global oil prices and energy security.
  • Regional Influence: Nigeria’s size, population, and economic clout give it considerable influence within the West Africa region and across the broader African continent. Nigeria has played a pivotal role in regional peacekeeping efforts and has been involved in conflict resolution initiatives in neighboring countries.
  • Counterterrorism and Security: Nigeria’s battle against Boko Haram insurgency has regional and global implications for counterterrorism efforts. Collaborative measures to address security challenges in Nigeria can contribute to regional stability and counter the spread of extremist ideologies.
  • Diplomatic Relations: Nigeria is an active participant in international organizations, including the United Nations, African Union, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Its diplomatic engagements and foreign policies impact regional and global dynamics, particularly within Africa.
  • Migration and Diaspora: Nigeria has a large diaspora spread across the globe, contributing to diverse societies and economies in various countries. Nigerian migrants play a role in trade, cultural exchanges, and remittances, which have significant global implications.
  • Trade and Investment: Nigeria’s vast consumer market and emerging middle class make it an attractive destination for foreign direct investment. The country’s trade relations and economic policies impact global trade flows, particularly within Africa and with major economies like India, China, and the European Union.
  • Cultural Influence: Nigeria’s vibrant and diverse cultural heritage, including its music, literature, film industry (Nollywood), and fashion, have gained international recognition and influence, contributing to global cultural exchanges and soft power.



  • Nigeria’s recent transfer of power showcases its commitment to democracy amidst a continent known for political instability. India, with its historical ties and economic partnership, has a crucial role to play in Nigeria’s journey. By fostering enhanced engagement, India can contribute to Nigeria’s progress and strengthen bilateral relations for mutual benefits.

Also read:

India’s population to edge ahead of China’s by mid-2023: UN


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

India-Egypt Relations


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-Egypt bilateral ties



  • The decision to invite President Abdel Fattah al Sisi of Egypt as the Chief Guest on Republic Day is an important gesture and should go a long way in imparting fresh momentum to India’s ties with the largest country in the Arab world.

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What makes Egypt a pivotal player?

  • With a population of almost 110 million, a location that straddles Africa and Asia, a standing army that is the largest in the region, a capital that hosts the League of Arab States and a diplomatic presence that punches above its weight in global affairs, Egypt is a pivotal player.


Why Egypt matters to India?

  • Close relationship immediately after Independence: It is a country with which India enjoyed an exceptionally close relationship in the first couple of decades after our independence.
  • Shared vision of NAM: The personal equation between Prime Minister Nehru and President Nasser was legendary and the two also became the stalwarts of the nonaligned movement during the Cold War of the 1960s.
  • Joint fighter project: At the political level, the two countries were close enough for India to send clandestine arms shipments to Egypt during the Suez crisis in 1956 and contemplate nuclear cooperation and a joint fighter project in the 1960s.
  • Indian literature in Egypt: It was a time when Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore were household names and their works were translated into Arabic by leading figures of Arab literature.

A drift for almost 30 years

  • The two countries drifted apart Particularly during President Hosni Mubarak’s long innings from 1981 to 2011.
  • According to diplomatic folklore, an apparently minor protocol gaffe over seating arrangements during the New Delhi NAM summit in 1983 was seen as a personal affront and it took all of 25 years before Mubarak could be persuaded to return to India in November 2008.


Growing ties and willingness to work together 

  • Egypt showed its intent to work together: President Sisi came into power in 2014 and Egypt again showed its intent, first through his participation in the India-Africa Forum Summit in Delhi in 2015 and again through a state visit in 2016.
  • Back-to-back visits by India and emphasis on defence cooperation: Defence cooperation is clearly one of the themes and high-level exchanges over the last two years led to Desert Warrior, the first-ever joint tactical exercise by the air force of the two countries, with IAF sending five Mirage 2000 fighters and a refuelling aircraft to El Berigat Airbase in Egypt.
  • Egyptian interest in India’s Tejas and Dhruv: The Egyptians have also shown some interest in India’s Tejas fighter jets and Dhruv light attack helicopters, although this is still at a fairly preliminary stage.
  • Cooperation to counter hostilities: Equally important is the behind-the-scenes support provided by them in countering hostile moves by Pakistan at forums like the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and by refraining from making any adverse comment during the Nupur Sharma affair.
  • Mutual goodwill: Both countries also demonstrated mutual goodwill by helping each other at crucial times over the last two years.
  • Remdesivir supplied by Egypt to India: When India was hit hard by the second wave of COVID-19, Egypt responded by dispatching three plane loads of medical supplies and providing 300,000 doses of Remdesivir in May 2021.
  • India reciprocated by supplying wheat: India reciprocated a year later when Egypt, the world’s largest importer of wheat, was facing a dire situation following the abrupt halt in wheat shipments from Ukraine. The Indian response also paved the way for Egypt to visit India’s wheat growing areas and register India for regular wheat exports to the country.
  • Bilateral trade is well below the potential but it is growing: Bolstered by these tailwinds, bilateral trade has grown by almost 75 percent last year to touch US$ 7 billion, although this is well below the potential, given the size of the two economies. But it is Egypt’s emerging investment scenario that offers a more interesting opportunity.

Current status of Egypt’s economy and India’s investment

  • Egypt’s economy is struggling: Growth in the non-oil sector has been anaemic, foreign exchange reserves have dwindled and the Egyptian pound has been in free fall, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) administering a bitter dose of medicine to fix some of the problems.
  • Economic and administrative reforms: After several abortive starts and forced by the gravity of the economic crisis, the Egyptian government finally seems to be getting serious about implementing both economic and administrative reforms
  • Ease of doing business is welcomed by India: Indian companies have invested in Egypt and by and large, they have done well. Indian companies are positive in their feedback, with some saying quite candidly that after years of apathy, they are finally being heard and action is being taken to make ease of doing business a reality.
  • Plan to develop Suez Canal Economic zone into global manufacturing hub: The ambitious plans to develop the Suez Canal Economic Zone into a global manufacturing hub are now gathering critical mass. Gurgaon-based ReNew Power seems to be the first off the blocks from India and has signed an agreement to set up a Green Hydrogen facility. It is clearly driven by attractive tax incentives, cheap and abundant land, 365 days of sun to produce the solar energy needed for the electrolysers, and the strategic location that makes it easy to access the European markets.


Way ahead to further improve the ties

  • For India, a deeper economic engagement with Egypt therefore acquires an additional strategic imperative.
  • While Egypt clearly needs to do more to market itself as an investment destination in India, it is also important for industry bodies like CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM to take a more pro-active approach.
  • ReNew Power has shown the way but it will need a joint government-industry initiative to acquire the scale needed to make an impact.


  • For now, there are clear indications that India under Prime Minister Modi and Egypt under President Sisi may finally be moving towards achieving some of the potential in bilateral ties that has remained unfulfilled for the last four decades.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

China’s interventions in the Horn of Africa


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Horn of Africa Region

Mains level: Geostrategic significance of HOA

China recently held the first China-Horn of Africa Peace, Governance and Development Conference.

Why in news?

  • China has been investing across the African continent throughout the last decade.
  • The conference held in Ethiopia witnessed the participation of foreign ministries from the following countries of the Horn: Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda.

Major objectives

  • No doubt that china predates small nations with debt-trapping the countries.
  • It focuses on increasing the infrastructural investments in African countries and converting them to security assets.
  • It asserted three objectives in Africa:
  1. Controlling the pandemic
  2. Implementing a Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) outcomes, and
  3. Upholding common interests while fighting hegemonic politics

What is FOCAC?

  • The FOCAC promotes China’s role in the infrastructural and societal development of the Horn.
  • In the 2021 forum, the entire region of the Horn participated and four resolutions were adopted:
  1. Dakar Action Plan
  2. China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035
  3. Sino-African Declaration on Climate Change
  4. Declaration of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC

How has China garnered goodwill in HOA?

  • HOA have benefited from China’s vaccine diplomacy.
  • Beijing has also initiated the “2035 vision for China-Africa cooperation”; it aims to transform the health sector, alleviate poverty, promote trade and investments, and expand digital innovation.
  • The vision also focuses on green development, capacity building, improving people-to-people exchanges and facilitating peace and security in the continent.

What are China’s primary interests/investments in the Horn of Africa?

China’s interests are related to four major areas: infrastructural projects, financial assistance, natural resources and maritime interests.

(1) Infrastructure

  • Looking at Chinese investments in infrastructure, one of its landmark projects was fully funding the $200 million African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.
  • It has also made significant investments in railways; it is building the Addis-Djibouti railway line connecting the land-locked country with Eritrean ports in the Red Sea.
  • China has also invested in the Mombasa-Nairobi rail link in Kenya, and has already delivered on railway projects in Sudan.
  • It also has a viable military hardware market in Ethiopia and has built over 80 infrastructural projects in Somalia, including hospitals, roads, schools and stadiums.

(2) Debts and ‘assistances’

  • With respect to financial assistance, Ethiopia, is one of the top five African recipients of Chinese investments, and also has a debt of almost $14 billion.
  • China accounts for 67% of Kenya’s bilateral debt.
  • In 2022, China promised to provide $15.7 million assistance to Eritrea.

(3) Mineral explorations

  • The third major Chinese interest in Africa is the presence of natural resources — oil and coal. Beijing has invested $400 million in Mombasa’s oil terminal.
  • China is also interested in minerals such as gold, iron-ore, precious stones, chemicals, oil and natural gas in Ethiopia.
  • South Sudan, a source for petroleum products, has had continued Beijing investment in the industry since the latter’s initial entry in 1995.

(4) Maritime interest

  • China’s first and only military base outside its mainland is in Djibouti.
  • During his visit in early 2022, Wang hinted at China’s willingness to develop Eritrea’s coast which would connect to China’s investments in land-locked Ethiopia.
  • The US has speculated that China wishes to build another military base in Kenya and Tanzania, thereby increasing its military presence in the region.

Has the Horn of Africa been welcoming of China’s presence?

  • Africa has been keen on interacting with China.
  • Despite the wariness surrounding China’s projects in Africa, the governments have mostly been welcoming.
  • When conflict broke out in Tigray in November 2020, Addis Ababa appreciated Beijing for respecting Ethiopia’s sovereignty.
  • In December 2021, Kenya defended Chinese projects in the country; President Uhuru Kenyatta maintained that China-Africa partnership was mutually beneficial.
  • Similarly, in May 2022, the East African Community (EAC) welcomed Chinese investors to work in East Africa for the prosperity of the people.

Beijing’s principle of non-intervention

  • Peace and stability is a mutual requirements for China and Africa.
  • For Africa, Chinese investments could lead to stable environments which could help the countries achieve their peace and development objectives.
  • For China, conflict in the region comes at a heavy cost.
  • In Ethiopia. when the conflict broke out, over 600 Chinese nationals, working on different projects, were evacuated, putting several investments at risk.
  • From a trading perspective, the region plays a significant role in achieving the objectives of the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035.

Why is HOA important?

  • In the last decade, the region lying between Suez Canal and the Seychelles has emerged as a new geopolitical hotspot.
  • It has factors like impressive economic growth of regional countries, emergence of new security threats, and the ensuing major power rivalry driving the strategic trajectory of the region.
  • The straits of Bab el-Mandeb, which lies at the heart of this region, connects the energy-rich Middle East to Europe and, along with the Suez Canal, is considered a jugular vein for global trade.

Indian footprints in the region

  • India has been paying greater attention to the region but still lags behind China.
  • India has bolstered defence cooperation with Oman and France (which holds territories in the Southwestern Indian Ocean).
  • It has signed logistics support agreements with these countries to ensure greater naval access in the region.
  • Reportedly, India was in talks with Japan to grant access to Indian naval vessels at the Japanese base in Djibouti.
  • India has also sought to open a military base in the Seychelles and plans to further enhance its naval presence in the Western Indian Ocean.

These efforts are directed to increase Indian leverage and limit Chinese influence in the region.

Lessons for India

  • China’s move towards peace in Africa indicates a shift in its principle of non-intervention.
  • It is China’s message that its presence in the continent has a larger objective and is not likely to be limited to the Horn of Africa.
  • This includes an aim to project itself as a global leader and boost its international status.
  • Further, the recent developments imply that China is focussing on a multifaceted growth in the continent for the long run.



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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Chinese scramble for Africa


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Chinese scramble in Africa

Chinese Foreign Minister has visited Eritrea, Kenya, and Comoros in the first week of January as part of a five-nation tour.

Why in news?

  • Chinese FM was observing a 32-year-old Beijing ritual of visiting Africa at the beginning of every year.
  • In fact, China’s links with the continent go back farther than the last three decades.

China-Africa Ties: A backgrounder

  • In the Cold War years, as the US and Soviet Union jousted for influence over Africa, China maintained an ideological presence on the continent.
  • In 1966, after Kwame Nkrumah was ousted in a coup while he was in Beijing, the Chinese put up the Ghananian independence leader for a few days before he decided to leave for Guinea.
  • Since the 1990s, China has successfully used its old ties with several African countries to remodel the relationship, using the abundant natural resources of the continent to service its own massive growth.

[A] Strategic gestures

  • Diplomatic establishments: China has a special envoy to the Horn of Africa where Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya are located. It shows the strategic importance of this Indian Ocean region for China.
  • Military bases: Since 2017, Beijing has had a military base in Djibouti with 400 soldiers of the PLA, in close proximity to French and an American base.
  • Railway lines: A Chinese-built railway line connects Djibouti to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

[B] Infrastructure Projects

  • Tanzania: The first Chinese infrastructure project on the continent was the 1,860-km Tanzania-Zambia railway in the 1970s — the first transnational railway in Africa.
  • Zambia: In addition to carrying passengers, it transported ore from Zambian copper mines to the port city of Dar-es-Salam in Tanzania.
  • Kenya: China has undertaken major Belt and Road initiatives in Kenya. Recently, there was held completion ceremony of the Chinese-built oil terminal at the port city of Mombasa.
  • Comoros Islands: In the Comoros Islands, off Mozambique, China has made many development assistance.

[C] Loans and trade

  • For a dozen years, China has been Africa’s biggest trading partner. Undoubtedly, the balance of trade is heavily in favour of China.
  • Two-way trade in 2020 was $ 187 billion, according to the ‘China-Africa Annual Economic and Trade Relationship Report 2021’.
  • The top five African recipients of Chinese investments are South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Ethiopia, and Zambia.
  • While the main investments in countries across Africa are in infrastructure construction projects and mining, China is also investing in transport, scientific research, and the services sector.

[D] Others

  • China has huge demand for African ivory, abalone, rhinoceros tusk and materials from other endangered species.
  • This has taken a significant toll on conservation efforts.

Major Chinese accomplishments

  • The question of Taiwan has been a key political issue for China these days.
  • In 1971, the support of African nations was crucial in China’s joining the United Nations (UN), taking over the seat on Taiwan.
  • Many African countries, such as Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Zambia have stressed their support for a “one-China policy”.

Criticisms of Chinese Scramble in Africa: A neo-colonialism in making

  • There are a variety of critical perspectives scrutinizing the balance of power relationship between China and Africa, and China’s role concerning human rights in Africa.
  • Increasingly, concerns have been raised by Africans and outside observers that China’s relationship with Africa is neocolonialist in nature.


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Crafting a unique partnership with Africa


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: China's scramble for Africa and challenges for India

This op-ed analyses the future of India-Africa cooperation in agriculture amid the looming Chinese involvement in African countries.

Agricultural significance of Africa

  • With 65% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, employing over 60% of the workforce, and accounting for almost 20% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP, agriculture is critical to Africa’s economy.

China factor behind

  • As this relationship enters the post-pandemic world, it is vital to prioritize and channel resources into augmenting partnerships in agriculture.
  • This is crucial given its unexplored potential, centrality to global food security, business prospects and to provide credible alternatives to the increasing involvement of Chinese stakeholders in the sector.

Analyzing Chinese engagement

Chinese corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs adopt has provided a layered perspective of the sociopolitical, economic and environmental impact of Chinese engagement.

  • Trade: China is among Africa’s largest trading partners.
  • Credit facility: It is also Africa’s single biggest creditor.
  • Infrastructure: Its corporations dominate the region’s infrastructure market and are now entering the agri-infra sector.
  • Strategic support: While access to Africa’s natural resources, its untapped markets and support for ‘One China Policy’ are primary drivers of Chinese engagement with the region, there are other factors at play.

China is going strategic in the guise of agriculture

  • Increasingly critical to China’s global aspirations, its engagement in African agriculture is taking on a strategic quality.
  • Chinese-built industrial parks and economic zones in Africa are attracting low-cost, labour-intensive manufacturing units that are relocating from China.
  • Chinese engineers interviewed spoke of how their operations in Africa are important to accumulate global experience in management, risk and capital investments.
  • Not only are they willing to overlook short-term profits in order to build a ‘brand China’, but they want to dominate the market in the long term, which includes pushing Chinese standards in host countries.
  • Chinese tech companies are laying critical telecommunications infrastructure, venture capital funds are investing in African fintech firms, while other smaller enterprises are expanding across the region.

Agricultural landscape

  • While many Chinese entities have been active in Africa’s agriculture for decades now, the nature, form and actors involved have undergone substantial change.
  • In Zambia, Chinese firms are introducing agri-tech to combat traditional challenges, such as using drone technology to control the fall armyworm infestation.
  • They have set up over Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centers (ATDCS) in the continent where Chinese agronomists work on developing new crop varieties and increasing crop yields.
  • This ATDCs partner with local universities, conduct workshops and classes for officials and provide training and lease equipment to small holder farmers.
  • Chinese companies with no prior experience in agriculture are setting out to build futuristic ecological parks while others are purchasing large-scale commercial farms.

Inducing their soft power

  • The exponential growth in the China-Africa economic ties and the emergence of Beijing as an alternative to traditional western powers have motivated change in perceptions across groups.
  • Governments and heads of state are recalibrating approaches, media houses are investing more resources for on-the-ground reporting.

Dark Side of the Sino-Africa ties

  • Simultaneously, Africa-China relations are becoming complex with a growing, insular diaspora, lopsided trade, looming debt, competition with local businesses and a negative perception accompanied by greater political and socioeconomic interlinkages.
  • On occasion, there seems to be a gap between skills transferred in China and the ground realities in Africa.
  • In some cases, the technology taught in China is not available locally and in others, there is inability to implement lessons learnt due to the absence of supporting resources.
  • Larger commercial farms run by Mandarin-speaking managers and the presence of small-scale Chinese farmers in local markets aggravates socio-cultural stresses.

India’s agricultural engagement

  • Diverse portfolios: India-Africa agricultural cooperation currently includes institutional and individual capacity-building initiatives, an extension of soft loans, supply of machinery, acquisition of farmlands and the presence of Indian entrepreneurs in the African agricultural ecosystem.
  • Land acquisition: Indian farmers have purchased over 6,00,000 hectares of land for commercial farming in Africa.
  • States cooperation: Sub-national actors are providing another model of cooperation in agriculture. Consider the case of the Kerala government trying to meet its requirement for cashew nuts with imports from countries in Africa.
  • Civil society: Similar ideas could encourage State governments and civil society organizations to identify opportunities and invest directly.
  • Agri-business: There is also promise in incentivizing Indian industries to tap into African agri-business value chains and connecting Indian technology firms and startups with partners in Africa.
  • Investment: In the past year, despite the pandemic, the sector witnessed a record increase in investments.

Way forward

  • A thorough impact assessment needs to be conducted of the existing capacity-building initiatives in agriculture for India to stand in good stead.
  • This could include detailed surveys of participants who have returned to their home countries.
  • Country-specific and localized curriculum can be drawn up, making skill development demand-led.
  • In all senses, India has consistently chosen well to underline the development partnership to be in line with African priorities.
  • It is pertinent, therefore, that we collectively craft a unique modern partnership with Africa.


  • While India’s Africa strategy exists independently, it is important to be cognizant of China’s increasing footprint in the region.
  • Beijing’s model, if successful here, could be heralded as a replica for the larger global south.
  • It is important to note, however, that prominent African voices have emphasized that their own agency is often overlooked in the global discourse on the subject.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

India-Africa relations


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India-Africa Forum Summit

Mains level: Paper 2- India's policy for African countries

The article deals with India’s strategy to deepen the ties with African nations and suggest a critical review of the implementation of India’s strategy.

Need for review of India’s foreign policy for Africa

  • Africa is considered a foreign policy priority by India.
  •  Even as the COVID-19 era began in March 2020, New Delhi took new initiatives to assist Africa through prompt despatch of medicines and later vaccines.
  • But now the policy implementation needs a critical review.

Four factors that explain need for a review of policy implementation

1) Declining trade

  • Declining trade: Bilateral trade valued at $55.9 billion in 2020-21, fell by $10.8 billion compared to 2019-20, and $15.5 billion compared to the peak year of 2014-15.
  • Decline in investment: India’s investments in Africa too saw a decrease from $3.2 billion in 2019-20 to $2.9 billion in 2020-21.
  • The composition of the India-Africa trade has not changed much over the two decades.
  • Mineral fuels and oils, (essentially crude oil) and pearls, precious or semi-precious stones are the top two imports accounting for over 77% of our imports from Africa.
  • India’s top five markets today are South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and Togo.
  • The countries from which India imports the most are South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Angola and Guinea.

2) Covid impact

  • COVID-19 has brought misery to Africa.
  • As on June 24, 2021, Africa registered 5.2 million infections and 1,37,855 deaths.
  • A recent World Health Organization survey revealed that 41 African countries had fewer than 2,000 working ventilators among them.
  • Despite these shortcomings, Africa has not done so badly.
  •  Sadly though, with much of the world caught up in coping with the novel coronavirus pandemic’s ill effects, flows of assistance and investment to Africa have decreased.
  • While China has successfully used the pandemic to expand its footprint by increasing the outflow of its vaccines.
  • Unfortunately India’s ‘vax diplomacy’ has suffered a setback. 

3) Global competition for influence

  • Africa experienced a sharpened international competition, known as ‘the third scramble’, in the first two decades of the 21st century.
  • A dozen nations from the Americas, Europe and Asia have striven to assist Africa in resolving the continent’s political and social challenge.
  • These nations, in turn, stand to benefit from Africa’s markets, minerals, hydrocarbons and oceanic resources, and thereby to expand their geopolitical influence.

4) Geopolitical tensions in Asia

  • Geopolitical tensions in Asia and the imperative to consolidate its position in the Indo-Pacific region have compelled New Delhi to concentrate on its ties with the United Kingdom, the EU, and the Quad powers, particularly the U.S.
  • Consequently, the attention normally paid to Africa lost out.
  • This must now change.

Way forward for India-Africa relation

  • For mutual benefit, Africa and India should remain optimally engaged.
  • The third India-Africa Forum Summit was held in 2015.
  • The fourth summit, pending since last year, should be held as soon as possible, even if in a virtual format.
  • Fresh financial resources for grants and concessional loans to Africa must be allocated, as previous allocations stand almost fully exhausted.
  • The promotion of economic relations demands a higher priority.
  • Industry representatives should be consulted about their grievances and challenges in the COVID-19 era.
  • To impart a 21st-century complexion to the partnership, developing and deepening collaborations in health, space and digital technologies is essential.
  • India should continue its role in peacekeeping in Africa, in lending support to African counter-terrorism operations, and contributing to African institutions through training and capacity-enhancing assistance.
  • To overcome the China challenge in Africa, increased cooperation between India and its international allies, rates priority.
  • The recent India-EU Summit has identified Africa as a region where a partnership-based approach will be followed.
  •  When the first in-person summit of the Quad powers is held in Washington, a robust partnership plan for Africa should be announced. 


India should review the policy implementation and make changes in line with the changing geopolitical realities.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ECOWAS

Mains level: Not much

West African leaders were due to meet in Ghana to discuss a response to Mali’s second coup in nine months.

  • Since 1960, when Mali gained independence from France, there have been five coups — and only one peaceful transition from one democratically elected president to another.
  • But on Monday, soldiers detained transitional President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, releasing them on Thursday while saying that they had resigned.

Recent coup

  • Nine months ago, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was overthrown in the wake of mass anti-government protests.
  • Last week, the announcement of a new cabinet was made that excluded two key military leaders. Following this, the army has detained the President and the Prime Minister.


  • The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group of fifteen countries, founded in 1975 via the treaty of Lagos.
  • Mission: To promote economic integration in “all fields of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial questions, social and cultural matters.
  • Vision: Creation of a borderless region where the population has access to its abundant resources and is able to exploit same through the creation of opportunities under a sustainable environment.
  • ECOWAS can be divided into two sub-regional blocs:
  1. West African Economic and Monetary Union – established in 1994
  2. West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) – established in 2000
  • ECOWAS is meant to be a region governed in accordance with the principles of democracy, rule of law and good governance.
  • The member countries of ECOWAS comprises: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Maritime border dispute between Kenya and Somalia


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Map marking of these countries

Mains level: Issues in Africa

In a move that is set to further undermine stability in East Africa, Kenya has said that it will not take part in proceedings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its maritime border dispute with neighbouring Somalia.

Can you recall the terms like “Scramble for Africa”, “Paper Partition of Africa”? If yes, then you know very well the malady of the present-day Continent of Africa.

What is the news?

  • Nairobi has accused the top UN body of bias.
  • The move comes after Somalia’s decision to sever diplomatic relations with Kenya in December after it accused Nairobi of meddling in its internal affairs.
  • The maritime dispute is said to form a crucial part of the diplomatic quarrel between the two countries.

The disputed area

  • The main point of disagreement between the two neighbours is the direction in which their maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean should extend.
  • According to Somalia, the sea border should be an extension of the same direction in which their land border runs as it approaches the Indian Ocean, i.e. towards the southeast.
  • Kenya, on the other hand, argues that the territorial southeast border should take a 45-degree turn as it reaches the sea, and then run in a latitudinal direction, i.e. parallel to the equator.
  • Such an arrangement would be advantageous for Kenya, whose coastline of 536 km is more than 6 times smaller than Somalia’s (3,333 km).

Why is this area important?

  • The triangular area thus created by the dispute is around 1.6 lakh sq km large and boasts of rich marine reserves.
  • It is also believed to have oil and gas deposits.
  • Both Somalia and Kenya have accused each other of auctioning off blocks from this area, Al Jazeera reported.

How have Kenya and Somalia tried to resolve the dispute?

  • After negotiations to resolve the issue bilaterally failed, Somalia in 2014 asked the ICJ to adjudicate.
  • Kenya resisted, arguing that the world court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
  • In 2009 both countries had a commitment to settle the dispute out of court.
  • However, in February 2017, the ICJ ruled that it did have the right to rule in the case, and in June 2019 said that it would begin public hearings.
  • These hearings never took place, as Kenya successfully applied to have them postponed thrice– the last one being in June 2020, when it cited difficulties due to the Covid-19.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Mains level: Horn of Africa Region

Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have agreed on to resume negotiations to resolve their decade-long complex dispute over the Grand Renaissance Dam hydropower project in the Horn of Africa.

Note: You never know when UPSC might switch map based questions away from the Middle East and SE Asia.

Considering this news, the UPSC may ask a prelim question based on the countries swept by River Nile/ various dams constructed/ landlocked countries in the African continent etc.

Also read

[Burning Issue] Ethiopian Crisis and the Geopolitics

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

  • Spearheaded by Ethiopia, the 145-meter-tall (475-foot-tall) Grand Renaissance Dam hydropower project, when completed, will be Africa’s largest.
  • Its construction was initiated in 2011 on the Blue Nile tributary of the river that runs across one part of Ethiopia.
  • The Nile is a necessary water source in the region and Egypt has consistently objected to the dam’s construction, saying it will impact water flow.
  • The long-standing dispute has been a cause of concern for international observers who fear that it may increase conflict between the two nations and spill out into other countries in the Horn of Africa.

What is the dispute about?

  • The Nile, Africa’s longest river, has been at the centre of a decade-long complex dispute involving several countries that are dependent on the river’s waters.
  • At the forefront of this dispute are Ethiopia and Egypt, with Sudan having found itself dragged into the issue.
  • The main waterways of the Nile run through Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt, and its drainage basin runs through several countries in East Africa, including Ethiopia.

Concerns over the dam

  • Given the dam’s location on the Blue Nile tributary, it would potentially allow Ethiopia to gain control of the flow of the river’s waters.
  • Egypt lies further downstream and is concerned that Ethiopia’s control over the water could result in lower water levels within its own borders.
  • In addition, Egypt proposed a longer timeline for the project over concerns that the water level of the Nile could dramatically drop as the reservoir fills with water in the initial stages.
  • Sudan’s location between Egypt up north and Ethiopia down south has caused it to become an inadvertent party to this dispute.
  • But that isn’t all; Sudan to is concerned that if Ethiopia were to gain control over the river, it would affect the water levels Sudan receives.

Why does Ethiopia want this dam?

  • Ethiopia’s goal is to secure electricity for its population and to sustain and develop its growing manufacturing industry.
  • Addis Ababa anticipates that this dam will generate approximately 6,000 megawatts of electricity when it is completed, that can be distributed for the needs of its population and industries.
  • In addition to its domestic requirements, Ethiopia may sell surplus electricity to neighbouring nations like Kenya, Sudan, Eritrea and South Sudan, that also suffer from electricity shortages, to generate some revenue.

What lies ahead?

  • Despite previous talks, the point of contention hasn’t changed: Egypt and Sudan are concerned about the filling and the operation of the dam.
  • Ethiopia continues to insist that the dam is required to meet the needs of its population and has said that downstream water supplies will not be adversely affected.
  • Cairo insists that the dam would cut its water supplies — concerning for a country that depends on the Nile for approximately 97% of its drinking water and irrigation supplies.
  • Sudan believes that the dam will reduce flooding, but is concerned about the path forward if the negotiations end at a stalemate.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Fortifying the African outreach: Contrast in the approach adopted by China and India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: e-ITEC COVID-19 Management Strategies Training Webinar

Mains level: Paper 2- India-Africa relation

As both India and China try and vie for increasing the influence in the African continent, the difference in the approach they adopted become evident. Both countries have been providing assistance in Africa amid the COVID pandemic. This article analyses the difference in the approach of the two countries.

Impact of covid pandemic in Africa

  • Although African countries moved quickly to curb the initial spread, they are still woefully ill-equipped to cope with a public health emergency.
  • They are facing shortages of masks, ventilators, and even basic necessities such as soap and water.
  • Such conditions have meant that Africa’s cycle of chronic external aid dependence continues.
  • Africa needs medical protective equipment and gear to support its front line public health workers.
  • India and China have increased their outreach to Africa through medical assistance.
  • Their efforts are directed to fill a part of the growing African need at a time when not many others have stepped in to help.

China’s donation diplomacy in Africa

  • China, being Africa’s largest trading partner, was quick to signal its intent to help Africa cope with the pandemic.
  • It despatched medical protective equipment, testing kits, ventilators, and medical masks to several African countries.
  • The primary motive of such donations has been to raise Beijing’s profile as a leading provider of humanitarian assistance and “public goods” in the global public health sector.
  • China’s billionaire philanthropy was also in full display when tech founder Jack Ma donated three rounds of anti-coronavirus supplies.
  • Chinese embassies across Africa have taken the lead by coordinating both public and private donations to local stakeholders.
  • However, the sub-optimal quality of China’s medical supplies and its deputing of medical experts have been a major cause for concern.

Let’s understand the objectives of China’s donation diplomacy

  • Beijing’s ‘donation diplomacy’ in Africa aims to achieve three immediate objectives:
  • 1) Shift the focus away from talking about the origins of the virus in Wuhan.
  • 2) Build goodwill overseas.
  • 3) Establish an image makeover.
  • For the most part, it succeeded in achieving these ends until China faced widespread backlash over the ill-treatment of African nationals in Guangzhou city.
  • The issue quickly grew into a full-blown political crisis for Beijing.

Let’s analyse the depth of China’s political influence in Africa

  • For the most part, China has been successful in controlling the Guangzhou narrative due to the depth of its political influence in Africa.
  • It is no secret that China relies heavily on diplomatic support and cooperation from African countries on key issues in multilateral fora.
  • For example, Beijing used African support for securing a win for Chinese candidates as the head of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and in the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • On Africa’s part, the problem lies in the deep disjuncture and credibility gap between Africa’s governing class, the people, the media and civil society.
  • Even when criticisms have been levelled against Chinese indiscretions, it has hardly ever surfaced at the elite level.
  • Overall, China’s donation diplomacy towards Africa during COVID-19 has received mixed reactions, but Beijing’s advantage lies in its economic heft and political influence in Africa.

Understanding India’s diplomacy in Africa: Responsible and reliable global stakeholder

  • For India, the pandemic presents an opportunity to demonstrate its willingness and capacity to shoulder more responsibility.
  • The fact that even with limited resources, India can fight the virus at home while reaching out to developing countries in need is testament to India’s status as a responsible and reliable global stakeholder.
  • Nowhere has India’s developmental outreach been more evident than in Africa with the continent occupying a central place in Indian government’s foreign and economic policy in the last six years.
  • Africa has been the focus of India’s development assistance and also diplomatic outreach, as evident in plans to open 18 new embassies.
  • These efforts have been supplemented by an improved record of Indian project implementation in Africa.

Trade ties and cooperation amid pandemic

  • India’s role as ‘the pharmacy of the world’, as the supplier of low-cost, generic medicines is widely acknowledged.
  • Pharmaceutical products along with refined petroleum products account for 40% of India’s total exports to African markets.
  • India is sending consignments of essential medicines, including hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and paracetamol, to 25 African countries in addition to doctors and paramedics at a total cost of around ₹600 million ($7.9 million) on a commercial and grant basis.
  • The initial beneficiaries were the African Indian Ocean island nations of Mauritius, the Seychelles, Comoros, and Madagascar under India’s ‘Mission Sagar’.
  • While transportation and logistics remain a concern, most of the consignments have already reached various African states.
  • A timely initiative has been the e-ITEC COVID-19 management strategies training webinars exclusively aimed at training health-care professionals from Africa and the SAARC nations and sharing of best practices by Indian health experts.
  • Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, and Namibia have been beneficiaries.
  • Across Africa, there is a keen interest to understand the developments and best practices in India because the two share similar socioeconomic and developmental challenges.
  • There is also growing interest in research and development in drugs and vaccines.
  • A few African countries such as Mauritius are pushing for health-care partnerships in traditional medicines and Ayurveda for boosting immunity.
  • The Indian community, especially in East African countries, has also been playing a crucial role in helping spread awareness.
  • Prominent Indian businessmen and companies in Nigeria and Kenya have donated money to the respective national emergency response funds.
  • Country-specific chapters of gurdwaras and temples have fed thousands of families by setting up community kitchens, helplines for seniors and distributing disinfectants and sanitisers.

The contrast between approaches adopted by India and China

  • Both India and China, through their respective health and donation diplomacy, are vying to carve a space and position for themselves as reliable partners of Africa in its time of need.
  • Burnishing their credentials as humanitarian champions is the name of the game.
  • But there are significant differences in the approaches.
  • For China, three aspects are critical:
  • 1) Money, political influence and elite level wealth creation.
  • 2) Strong state-to-state relations as opposed to people-to-people ties.
  • 3) Hard-infrastructure projects and resource extraction.
  • India’s approach, on the other hand, is one that focuses on building local capacities and an equal partnership with Africans and not merely with African elites concerned.

Consider the question “Both India and China have been playing an active role in the African continent and vying for the outreach there. But there is a fundamental difference in their approach. Comment.”


As these two powers rise in Africa, their two distinct models will come under even greater scrutiny. And both New Delhi and Beijing might find that they need to adapt to the rising aspirations of the African continent.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Deepening India’s engagement with Africa amid pandemic


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India-Africa Forum summit

Mains level: Paper 3- Scope to increase the ties between India and Africa amid covid pandemic.

Long thought to be the backwater of the world, Africa has been successful in shading its past image and emerge on the global stage as region hard to ignore. And countries across the world are vying to increase their engagement with the region. This article examines the scope for increasing the ties with the region amid the pandemic.

India’s association with African Union

  • Africa Day is observed every year on May 25 to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, now known as the African Union.
  • India has been closely associated with it on account of its shared colonial past and rich contemporary ties.
  • The Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses has hosted an Africa Day Round Table annually for the last four years in order to commemorate this epochal event.

Economy and pandemic

  • The World Bank in its April report, assessed that the COVID-19 outbreak has sparked off the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region’s first recession in 25 years.
  • Growth is expected to plummet to between -2.1 and -5.1 per cent in 2020, from a modest 2.4 per cent in 2019.
  • With high rates of HIV, malaria, diabetes, hypertension and malnourishment prevalent, a large number of Africans were already faced with a health and economic crisis.
  • The steep decline in commodity prices has spelt disaster for the economies of Nigeria, Zambia and Angola.

Need for financial support

  • Precarious fiscal positions have ruled out any major governmental stimulus.
  • Public debt has mounted.
  • According to the World Bank, the SSA region paid $35.8 billion in total debt service in 2018.
  • Which is 2.1 per cent of regional gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Together, African countries have sought a $100 billion rescue package.
  • This rescue package includes a $44 billion waiver of interest payment by the world’s 20 largest economies.
  • The IMF’s debt service relief of $500 million is meant for 25 countries of which 19 are in Africa, but that is a drop in the bucket.
  • It is clear that without outside support, Africa will find it very difficult to meet the challenge.

Why the increased interest in engagement with Africa?

  • Africa’s rich natural resources, long-term economic potential, youthful demography and influence as a bloc of 54 countries in multi-lateral organisations is apparent.
  • Many have an eye for economic opportunities, including in energy, mining, infrastructure and connectivity. 
  • Japan hosted the 7th Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) in August 2019.
  • Russia hosted the first-ever Russia-Africa Summit last year.
  • Brazil, home to the largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa, has also sought to develop closer ties.
  • Cuba has sent medical teams to help Africa.

Chinese Bonhomie with the region

  • China’s engagement of Africa, as elsewhere, is huge but increasingly regarded as predatory and exploitative.
  • Its annual trade with Africa in 2019 stood at $208 billion, in addition to investments and loans worth $200 billion.
  • Traditionally, China’s participation in infrastructure projects has been astonishing.
  • Having famously built the 1,860 km Tanzania-Zambia railway line in 1975, and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti and Mombasa-Nairobi lines more recently, China is now eyeing to develop the vast East Africa Master Railway Plan.
  • It is also developing the Trans-Maghreb Highway, the Mambilla Hydropower Plant in Nigeria, the Walvis Bay Container Terminal in Windhoek and the Caculo Cabaca Hydropower project in Angola.
  • At the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (COCAC) in 2018, China set aside $60 billion in developmental assistance.
  • And it was followed by a whopping $1 billion Belt and Road (BRI) Infrastructure Fund for Africa.
  • China has followed up with robust health sector diplomacy in the wake of the pandemic.
  • But its image has been tarnished by defective supplies of PPE gear and discriminatory behaviour against Africans in Guangzhou.
  • This also led to an embarrassing diplomatic row.

India’s relations with Africa

  • In the last few years, India’s relations with Africa saw a revival.
  • India-Africa trade reached $62 billion in 2018 compared to $39 billion during 2009-10.
  • After South Asia, Africa is the second-largest recipient of Indian overseas assistance with Lines of Credit (LOC) worth nearly $10 billion (42 per cent of the total) spread over 100 projects in 41 countries.
  • Ties were boosted at the India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) in 2015.
  • 40 per cent of all training and capacity building slots under the ITEC programme have traditionally been reserved for Africa.
  • Approximately 6,000 Indian soldiers are deployed in UN peace-keeping missions in five conflict zones in Africa.
  • Bilateral cooperation includes solar energy development, information technology, cyber security, maritime security, disaster relief, counter-terrorism and military training.
  • India has also launched several initiatives to develop closer relations, including the first-ever India Africa Defence Ministers conclave in February this year on the margins of the Defence Expo 2020.
  • India provides about 50,000 scholarships to African students each year.
  • The huge Indian diaspora is a major asset.
  • India had planned to host the Fourth India Africa Forum Summit in September this year.
  • However, the COVID-19 pandemic may cause it to be delayed.

India’s support amid covid pandemic

  • India has already despatched medical assistance to 25 African countries.
  • PM Modi has had a telephonic talk with President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa who is the current chairperson of the African Union, and separately others such as the presidents of Uganda and Ethiopia.
  • India could consider structuring a series of virtual summits in zonal groups with African leaders across the continent over the next few months.
  • That could both provide a platform for a cooperative response to the pandemic and also serve as a precursor to the actual summit in the future.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs has already extended the e-ITEC course on “COVID-19 Pandemic: Prevention and Management Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals” to healthcare workers in Africa.
  • The Aarogya Setu App and the E-Gram Swaraj App for rural areas for mapping COVID-19 are technological achievements that could be shared with Africa.
  • Since the movement of African students to India for higher education has been disrupted, India may expand the e-VidyaBharti (tele education) project to establish an India-Africa Virtual University. Agriculture and food security can also be a fulcrum for deepening ties.
  • With the locust scourge devastating the Horn of Africa and the pandemic worsening the food crisis, India could ramp up its collaboration in this sector.
  • India could also create a new fund for Africa and adapt its grant-in-aid assistance to reflect the current priorities.
  • This could include support for new investment projects by Indian entrepreneurs especially in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors in Africa.

Time for Quad Plus to propose cooperation with African countries

  • Both India and Japan share a common interest in forging a partnership for Africa’s development.
  • It is time for the Quad Plus, in which the US, India, Japan and Australia have recently engaged other countries such as the ROK, Vietnam, New Zealand, Israel and Brazil, to exchange views and propose cooperation with select African countries abutting the Indian Ocean.
  • After all, the Indo-Pacific straddles the entire maritime space of the Indian Ocean.

Consider the 2015 question asked by the UPSC “Increasing interest of India in Africa has its pros and cons. Critically examine”


The pandemic is a colossal challenge but it may create fresh opportunities to bring India and Africa closer together.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Nile and Various Issues


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nile River, GERD

Mains level: Not Much

Africa’s longest river, the Nile, has been at the centre of a decade-long complex dispute involving several countries in the continent who are dependent on the river’s waters. At the forefront of this dispute, however, are Ethiopia and Egypt.

Note: You never know when UPSC might switch map based questions away from the Middle East and SE Asia.

Considering this news, the UPSC may ask a prelim question based on the countries swept by River Nile/ various dams constructed/ landlocked countries in the African continent etc.

Grand Ethiopian Rennaissance Dam (GERD)


  • GERD is a gravity dam on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia that has been under construction since 2011.
  • At 6.45 gigawatts, the dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed, as well as the seventh-largest in the world.
  • Once completed, the reservoir could take anywhere between 5 and 15 years to fill with water, depending on hydrologic conditions during the filling period and agreements reached between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt.

Issues with the Dam

  • While the main waterways of the Nile run through Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt, its drainage basin runs through other countries in East Africa, including Ethiopia.
  • Egypt has objected to the construction of this dam and in Sudan has found itself caught in the midst of this conflict.
  • Due to the importance of the Nile as a necessary water source in the region, observers are concerned that this dispute may evolve into a full-fledged conflict between the two nations.
  • The US has stepped in to mediate.

How can this lead to conflict?

  • The mega project may just allow the country to control the river’s waters, and this is essentially what concerns Egypt because it lies downstream.
  • Egypt has objected to these plans and has proposed a longer timeline for the project because it does not want the water level of the Nile to dramatically drop as the reservoir fills with water in the initial stages.
  • For the past four years, triparty talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have been unable to reach agreements. Egypt isn’t alone in its concerns.
  • Sudan is hardly a passive observer caught in the conflict just because of its location.
  • It too believes Ethiopia having control over the river through the dam may affect its own water supplies.

Why does Ethiopia want this dam?

  • Ethiopia believes this dam will generate approximately 6,000 megawatts of electricity when it is done.
  • 65% of Ethiopia’s population suffers due to lack of access to electricity.
  • This dam will reduce those shortages and help the country’s manufacturing industry.
  • The country may also be able to supply electricity to neighbouring nations and earn some revenue in exchange.
  • Neighbouring countries like Kenya, Sudan, Eritrea and South Sudan also suffer from electricity shortages.
  • If Ethiopia sells electricity to these nations, they may also reap benefits.

What is happening now?

  • In the latest developments on this front, Egypt announced that it is willing to resume negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan concerning the dam.
  • Ethiopia has however proceeded with the first stage of filling the dam saying that it does not need Egypt’s permission to fill the dam.
  • In the letter to the UNSC, Egypt also implied that the dam would cause armed conflict between the two countries.

Back2Basics: River Nile

  • The Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa.
  • It is the longest river in Africa and the disputed longest river in the world as the Brazilian government says that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile.
  • The Nile is about 6,650 km long and its drainage basin covers eleven countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of Sudan, and Egypt.
  • In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.
  • The Nile has two major tributaries – the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The White Nile is considered to be the headwaters and primary stream of the Nile itself.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

[pib] Lucknow Declaration


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lucknow Declaration

Mains level: India-Africa Framework for Strategic Cooperation

The first India-Africa Defence Ministers’ Conclave held in Lucknow has adopted the Lucknow Declaration.

India-Africa Framework for Strategic Cooperation

The declaration:

  • Acknowledges contribution of Indian defence forces in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Africa.
  • It appreciates initiation of Africa India Field Training Exercises with the first ever AFINDEX in March 2019 and agree that it will further strengthen cooperation in defence preparedness and security.
  • The vision is to achieve ‘a conflict-free Africa, prevent genocide, make peace a reality for all and rid the continent of wars, violent conflicts, human rights violations, and humanitarian disasters.
  • It call for deeper cooperation in the domain of defence industry including through investment, joint ventures in defence equipment software, digital defence, research & development etc.
  • It recognizes the common security challenges such as terrorism and extremism, piracy, organised crime including human trafficking, drug trafficking, weapon smuggling and others.
  • The members endorsed initiatives such as African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), Silence The Guns in Africa and Agenda 2063.
  • It calls for strengthening the UN Counter-Terrorism mechanisms and to ensure strict compliance with the UN Security Council sanctions regime on terrorism.
  • It urged the international community to envisage the adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UNGA.
  • The members recognized the importance of the oceans and seas to the livelihoods of our peoples and that Maritime security is a pre-requisite for the development of Blue or Ocean economy.
  • It sought to increase cooperation in securing sea lines of communication, preventing maritime crimes, disaster, piracy, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing through sharing of information and surveillance.

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  • India and the African countries are in news lately, however the ties between the two regions date back to the ancient civilizations. Along with geographical proximity, there are factors such as the cultural connect, colonial past and development hurdles that are more or less common to both and thus bring each other much closer.
  • In this context it can be rightly said that through cooperation if the opportunities of these two regions is utilized, then there cannot be anything bigger in the geopolitical world scenario today than this cooperation.
  • Although triggered by the unfortunate racist attacks, however in this article we would try to learn and focus on the historical ties, how this relationship moved ahead and where do we stand today. This article intends to make the learners aware about the two regions in the most comprehensive manner and build a base for future understanding and correlation with the topic.


  • Once known as the ‘dark continent’ by the colonial exploiters due to inaccessibility into the interiors of the continent
  • The geographical proximity between the two was an important factor for building up relations during the ancient and the colonial period

Ancient Period

  • During the ancient period, the Indian merchants were in the constant look out beyond the Arabian Sea towards the west for lucrative markets. Slowly, the increasing people-to-people contacts made them a part of Indian Ocean circuit of trade’
  • They sailed regularly to the Zenj coast (Zanzibar) for palm oil, gold, copper, spices, ivory, rhino horn etc.
  • They sold cloth, metal implements, foodstuff like wheat, rice and jaggery, besides porcelain and glassware
  • Trade developed through the knowledge of favourable sea winds and the development of a suitable marine technology
  • Periplus of Erythrean Sea, a first century AD merchants’ sailor guide throws light on the thriving trade between India and the Western Indian Ocean region
  • It also stated that India’s trading contacts were spread from Egypt to coastal to northern Somalia, ancient land of Punt, kingdom of Kush (Sudan) and Axum


Islamic Era 

  • Indian presence in Africa is also seen during the Islamic age. The Venetian traveller Marco Polo mentioned explicitly about the Gujarati and Saurashtrian merchants on Africa’s east coast
  • The use of Indian system of weights and measures and Cowries as currency, pointed to the fact that Indians were playing a key role in this area
  • Not only economic benefits, the trade also contributed to the development of internal links in the African continent even before the advent of Europeans
  • By seventeenth century, the nature of Indian Ocean trade underwent a radical change due to demand for captives who could be sold as slaves.

During the medieval time the Africans came to India and were part of the muslim rule in India

  • A good example could be of ‘Malik Amber’ and the ‘Siddis’ who are still a part of the Indian population and are settled in parts of Gujarat, Karnataka and Hyderabad


Advent of Colonialism

  • With the advent of European colonial powers in India and Africa, the trade pattern underwent a significant change as Indo–African relations entered a new era of ‘colonialism’
  • During the colonialism period, trade continued and also started the slave trade
  • The Indians who went to Africa as slaves and post abolition of slavery, as the indentured labourers, and the merchant class of Gujarat slowly settled down there
  • India’s link with the African continent dates back to the anti-apartheid struggle of Mahatma Gandhi with the colonial rulers in South Africa
  • India has been aggressively putting forward the issue of apartheid on multilateral forums such as UN, NAM And Commonwealth

Post-Colonial Period

The foundations were laid by Mahatma Gandhi. According to him, there will be a “commerce of ideas and services and not of raw materials and goods like imperialist powers”. The present government continues to take this approach as the foundation of India’s Africa Policy. According to Vice President Hamid Ansari, “ India shares Africa’s dreams and India Africa cooperation is genuine 2 way street partnership

Relations uptill 1960:

Nehru talked about Afro Asian solidarity. African countries provided strength to Nehru’s NAM. The policy in this phase is described as “ideational” and “pragmatic”

2nd phase (1970s – 1990s):

There was neglect of Africa because of India’s attention on South Asia and India’s attention on inward looking foreign policy. Though India in this phase continued to support Africa against Apartheid.

3rd phase (1990s onwards):

This is the phase of reengagement with Africa. However the lead was taken by private sector, rather than government. Private sector of India should be given credit to push attention of GoI towards the region of strategic and economic importance.

Present status of relations:

Since 2008, India and Africa relations have been institutionalized. India has started engagement with African Union (Pan African Platform). So far 3 summits have been organized under the aegis of India Africa Forum Summit. It is to be noted that the approach of GoI is also influenced by China. China has also initiated the Forum for Africa and China cooperation in the year 2000.

Importance of Africa:


  • Africa is critical to India’s security, especially the Horn of Africa region, because of its proximity with India. The threat of radicalism, piracy, organized crime emerge from this region


  • Africa can help us in diversifying our energy sources, which is one of the stated objective of our Integrated Energy Policy
  • Africa also contains rich reservoir of valuable minerals, metals including gold and diamond
  • Africa provides a space for Indian investment
  • Africa has ample agricultural land which cab address India’s food security. India is looking at leasing land in Africa to overcome the land deficit that we face in terms of arable land


  • Support of African countries is important for India’s aim of gaining a permanent seat in UNSC
  • Africa provides a space for displaying both India’s soft and hard power
  • India has been actively involved in peace and stability of African countries through UN Peace keeping operations. India is involved in capacity building of African countries. Africa is also the largest beneficiary of India’s ITEC programme

History of India Africa Relations: India Africa Relations

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

Whether India’s relationship with Africa should be seen through Chinese prism?

  • While China has been in Africa’s infrastructure, mining, oil and natural gas sectors for many years, India, despite moving late, has worked through training, education and capacity-building programmes — which have been very well-received by the countries.
  • China is developing series of important ports in Africa on the western and eastern coast right uptill Mediterranean and building rail linkages to connect to those ports
  • Over the last 15 years, India-Africa trade has gone up 20 times, and reached, according to the government, $ 70 billion.
  • Indian investment in Africa is between $ 30 billion and $ 35 billion.
  • India has given concessional credit to the tune of $ 7.4 billion, of which $ 5 billon has been disbursed. The credit lines have helped create 137 projects in 41 countries.
  • A Pan-African e-Network for education and health is functional in 48 countries.
  • Since 2008, India has extended 40,000 scholarships to African countries under ITEC programme

Thus it would be wrong to conclude that India’s African outreach is with a view to counter China’s expanding influencing in the region.

Moreover Chinese strategy of exporting Chinese labour as part of its push to create excess capacity abroad to counter unemployment in China is rattling the African population. There have been protests against the discriminatory employment practices of China in matters of employment in Nigeria, Kenya etc.

Challenges India faces from the presence of countries like U.S in Africa

  • S trade with Africa initially was high because of its strategy to reduce dependence of middle East oil and hence they went for greater purchase from Africa. With shale revolution in USA, trade volume has declined.
  • USA still involved in infrastructural development, export of commodities (food stuff, refined products), export of equipments, projects for Mineral exploration. All these fields are also what India is interested in. Same is the case with china
  • USA along with China has also been offering soft loans which are being lapped up by capital starved African nations

Shortcomings of U.S (and other developed countries) involvement

  • S products are too costly for African customers compared to Indian and Chinese products
  • Export of raw materials to USA unlikely to grow a lot because of relative stagnation of GDP growth rate of U.S economy compared to India and china
  • USA’s involvement in building transport infra etc can lead to increased sale of Indian cars etc which are cheaper
  • Development of African primary industries by these countries can lead to increased exports to India

Shortcomings of India’s involvement in Africa

  • In terms of cheque book diplomacy, India can not compete with China or U.S. Some of the African countries, even the richer ones like Nigeria, expect India to bear gifts for them under IAFS. However India asserts for joint endeavour for better development
  • India abrogates its responsibility in terms of mid stream and down stream delivery processes, instead relying on multilateral agencies like African Union. This leads to India losing credit for a project despite the financial, technological backing it gives
  • India contributed a lot more than other countries in terms of ebola relief but did not highlight it. Indian assistance was largely through multilateral forums and in a piecemeal manner

Impact of IAFS process so far:

  • India has committed unprecedented level of resources to Africa (in soft loans and grants). $5bn in soft loans, half a billion dollars in grants, institution building and training fellowship to Africa
  • Earlier in IAFS 1 India had offered DFQF (Duty Free Quota Free) access to LDCs of Africa
  • Increased people to people contact as observed in the increasing flow of medical tourists, students, trainees and Indian entrepreneurs and experts.
  • IAFS process has also given a boost to cultural and information contact and mutual awareness
  • Growth in India’s trade and investment activities has partially slowed down due to the effects of recession.

SWOT analysis


  • Indian diaspora in Africa to be leveraged for involvement in building social infra
  • Similar socio economic challenges and historical linkages
  • Indian developmental model more in line with Africa’s needs
  • Private sector involvement in Africa. India’s private sector is involved in 2x more Greenfield projects as compared to Chinese counterparts. Another advantage that India has, in any projects it employs local people thereby generating employment, earning goodwill. China exports Chinese labour.


  • Multiple competing interests present. China and USA are the top 2 trading partners
  • Chequebook diplomacy can not be done by India
  • Lack of emphasis on bilateral relationships instead engaging mostly through forums like IAFS


  • Shift from line of credit approach to private sector involvement which would help in providing loans at cheaper interest rate, risk mitigation
  • Better organized, more coherent and faster responding mechanism accompanied by an appropriate media campaign required for highlighting India’s contribution


  • Bureaucratic hurdle in trade expansion as we interact largely with African Union. We have focus on nations individually to take projects forward
  • No efforts by India to curb racial discrimination. Several reports in the past have highlighted that the propensity if Indians to discriminate on grounds of race is quiet high. China has undertaken educational projects to bury the African stereotype

A Brief Analysis of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit

‘New Hopes, New Horizons’

The Third India-Africa Forum Summit held recently unveiled a “dynamic and transformative agenda”. This agenda is of mutual empowerment and mutual resurgence between India and the African nations to strengthen the bond even more in the future.

This was the third summit, which was started in 2008, since when two summits had taken place.

However, this is the first time that 54 heads of the states out of a total of 54 in the African continent came to India together for one cause.

There were commemorative coins that were released to mark the event. They were as shown below:



                                                                            Source: MEA

Development Partnership

The ‘Delhi Declaration’ of 2015 envisages the India-Africa partnership in development. On the same lines, India would be providing a credit of $10 billion to Africa for development projects along with a grant assistance of $600 million.

This grant includes development fund, health fund and scholarship for students in India. The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation(ITEC) programme has already laid base for knowledge sharing and has acted as a bridge to connect students from both the sides.


The Delhi Declaration is in sync with the ‘Africa’s Vision 2063’ which also focusses on growth, stability and prosperity.

Arc of Prosperity

India-Africa Business Forum was also held as an important segment of the summit. It is noteworthy that the India-Africa trade has exceeded $70 billion!

Along with economic development through public private partnerships, institution building, infrastructure development and development of small and medium enterprises, the focus will also be on poverty alleviation, healthcare, education and sustainable development.

Blue Economy

An agenda was brought out in the summit or the development of blue economy or ocean economy which is aimed at development of marine resources sustainably for the growth and development of countries like India, on the African coast and other littoral states with coastlines.


Commemorative stamps were also issued during the summit:


Source: MEA

Strategic Partnership

India called for partnership with Africa in raising voice for the reform of international institutions such as the United Nations and its security council.

It also stressed for collective action for climate change with the mantra of ‘clean and green’. It includes the invitation given by India to all the African countries to be a part of the Indian initiative and join the ‘Solar Club’ for a partnership in areas of clean energy, sustainable habitats, public transport and climate resilient agriculture.


Partners in Peace

India is a major partner in the UN Peacekeeping missions in the African continent. The major peacekeeping missions in Africa in which India is involved are:

  1. Democratic Republic of Congo
  2. South Sudan
  3. Ivory Coast
  4. Liberia

Till date, India has deployed about 4,500 soldiers on the ground. This includes the only fully formed Indian female police unit in Liberia.

Cultural Bonding



Opportunities for India

Apart from the immense opportunities as can be comprehended from the above analysis of  the third India-Africa Forum Summit, some of the rest can be listed as below:

  • India has the opportunity to benefit from Africa’s rich resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas reserves whereas Africa would gain from India’s world-class downstream capabilities
  • Indian banks to expand their footprint on the continent for developing Africa’s financial market
  • The huge market can serve as an alternative to ours
  • The hydrocarbon from Africa is a source of clean, energy efficient fuel which is of immense importance given India’s ambitious goals for energy production and security

The importance of the ties between India and Africa was realized by our forefathers too for the development of both the land and the people.

The great leader of the world in General and Africa in particular ‘Nelson Mandela’ once remarked:


Taking ahead the culture of civilization tying it with our ancient past, it can be very rightly concluded by Mahatma Gandhi’s views:


Prime Minister’s African nation visit includes MozambiqueSouth AfricaTanzania and Kenya. The visit of Prime Minister comes close on the heels of the high level visit earlier by President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari.


Earlier visit of Vice president to Morocco and Tunisia covered North Africa. Later President’s visit to Ghana, Namibia and Ivory Coast covered West Africa. Now the Prime Minister’s visit covers South and East Africa. Through this our three topmost leaders have covered the whole of Africa .

It is projected that by 2020 the collective GDP of all African nations will be $2.6 trillion.

Strategic significance of Prime Minister’s visit

  • The Prime Minister’s focus of the African tour is on deepening cooperation in areas of hydrocarbonsmaritime securitytrade and investmentagriculture and food. Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya are very important and all are littoral states. They had very close connection with India.
  • India-Kenya ties have stood the test of time. Both our nations have had very strong people-to-people ties and both nations have successfully fought colonialism in the previous century.
  • Mozambique was a Portuguese colony earlier. Till 1750 the country was managed from Goa. There are large numbers of Goans in Mozambique.
  • Prime Minister addressed the Indian Diaspora at Nairobi. Terrorism and Global Warming are the two major global challenges faced by all the nations. No country is immune to the state of terrorism. Concerted action is required by the global community through UN frame work.
  • India and Tanzania have agreed to deepen overall defense and security partnership, especially in the maritime domain.

India’s strengths

  • India had age old cultural, historic and civilization ties with Africa and around 16th century India’s indentured labor had come here and now they have all prospered and helped in the progress of these countries.
  • India and Africa are neighbors which are connected by Indian OceanMaritime securitycounter terrorism operation, utilization of the Blue Economy is the important element between India and Africa.
  • There are opportunities for Indian private companies and Public sector entities to invest in Africa. India is interested in securing energy needs, renewable and non conventional sources of energy where Africa is rich in all these resources.
  • Energy security is a significant element of our partnership with Africa. 25% of India’s total investment in Africa is in Mozambique that is $8 billion. Around 10% of total investment is in Tanzania that is $3 billion. These investments are in the field of Energy.
  • India will grow and India will need Energy. Large numbers of countries of Africa are members of International Solar Alliance. Prime Minister also met ‘Solar Mamas’, a group of rural women solar engineers from Africa who have been trained under Government of India-supported programme to fabricate, install, use, repair and maintain solar lanterns and household solar lighting systems in their villages

Difference in India and China approach in Africa

  • India is different from other large investors in Africa. China is considered to be exploitative in terms of exploitation of Natural resources and there is not much benefit to the local people of Africa.
  • China has acquired land for agriculture which has got its own work force and this has not benefited Africa.
  • India wants African nation to get equal benefits from India’s economic development in Africa. India wants a win-win situation for both the countries.
  • There are concerns that India has been very slow on delivery. It makes promises and commitments, but it doesn’t have the wherewithal. There was a tangential comparison with china where china was able to deliver. India in the last 2 years has demonstrated through certain projects that now India will deliver on its promises.
  • India is interested in improving the living standards of the common people. Whether it is energy, renewable energy, agriculture, food processing etc. The strength India has in terms of Human Resource Development, capacity building, education, health care and large numbers of African students are in India.
  • $92 million line of credit that has been agreed to is for water distribution and purification systems. India has long term agreement with Mozambique for the purchase of pulses.
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