As state leaders and delegates descend on New Delhi this week for the third India-Africa Summit, Indian officials are working hard to differentiate their country from China, the African continent’s leading Asian partner.
“Our partnership is not focused on an exploitative or extraction point of view, but is one that focuses on Africa’s needs and India’s strengths,”said Vikas Swarup, a spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, alluding to criticisms that China exploits the region’s resources. India’s minister of commerce and industry described Africa and India as “old friends and old family,” drawing a distinct line between China’s relatively recent entry into the continent and the 2.16 million members of the Indian diaspora that have been living in Africa for generations. Last week, prime minister Narendra Modi claimed that India has emerged as a major investor in Africa, “surpassing even China.”
It’s an attempt to catch up to China, one of the Africa’s largest trading partners, now that India needs more energy and commodities to fuel its industries, as well as diplomatic support for strategic moves like India’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Another summit focusing on India-Africa economic ties will be held in Nairobi next month. Then in a little over a month, South Africa will host the 6th Forum on China-Africa cooperation. Full Story