Indo-Africa: The Rising Relation

The foreign policy of India is visible from the increasing number of high-level visits from both the sides, which primarily concerns areas related to cooperation in various fields. Today, the bilateral trade between the two has increased from $34 billion in 2009 to $69 billion in 2019.

India and Africa share a close and historical relationship. Over the past few months, there has been a renewed energy and momentum in expanding India-Africa Relations. The initiatives taken by the Government of India, with respect to the African continent to strengthen their partnership is remarkable. Multiple VVIP visits have taken place, and many more are scheduled to deepen India’s relationship with Africa. The visits are seen as an attempt to make further inroads into the African continent, with constant bilateral agreements and engagements which have been executed or are in progress.
In fact, Africa’s significance in the foreign policy of India is visible from the increasing number of high-level visits from both the sides, which primarily concerns areas related to cooperation in various fields. Today, the bilateral trade between the two has increased from $34 billion in 2009 to $69 billion in 2019.Underpinning the growth of the India-Africa economic partnership – India is Africa’s 3rd largest trading partner and currently is the 5th largest investor in Africa. According to United Nations figures, “India-Africa trade has grown at an average annual rate of 17.2 % since 2001”.)
Defence cooperation is another area where we see India expanding its relationship with Africa. The foundation of India–Africa defence relations are based on the 2 guiding principles namely ‘SAGAR’ –‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ and ‘VasudhaivaKutumbakam’ – ‘the World is One Family’. The forth coming DefExpo with theme “Path to Pride”, scheduled to be held in Gandhinagar from October 18-22, 2022, is said to host the India-Africa Defence Dialogue – which will develop the existing partnerships between African nations and India; and help in exploring areas of convergence for mutual engagements including areas like capacity building, training, cyber security, maritime security and counter-terrorism. A separate Indian Ocean Region plus (IOR+) conclave with participation of approximately forty countries is also planned alongside.
In the last few months, India has geared up her relationship with Africa drastically. Last month (September), India and Egypt signed a MoU during the Indian Defence Minister’s Rajnath Singh’s visit to Cairo to enhance the relationship on the same lines. The MoU was to further enhance bilateral Defence cooperation by conducting joint exercises and exchange of personnel for training, especially in the field of counter-insurgency. Earlier in May 2022, India alsoorganisedDefExpo in Tanzania to expand defence sector footprints in Africa.
Africa has a huge Indian Diaspora. More than 3 million Indians Diaspora are present on the African Continent. The Indian business community has been playing a decisive role in Africa, as India enjoys historic trade and people-to-people linkages on the continent.Indian companies have global ambitions, and out of all the destinations Africa emerges as a destination of choice naturally owing to historical and geophysical attributes.
Africa is a continent of opportunities and has emerged as an attractive destination for both trade and investment. With over a billion strong popu¬lation, young workforce, vast arable land and natural resources and a GDP growth of over 5 percent – the Indian companies see emerging markets in Africa, as they are well positioned to ex¬pand their footprint in Africa. India’s trade with Africa has surged.
There are a lot of business leaders from Africa who are doing business with India. Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan’s visit to the African nations like Djibouti, Kenya and Eritrea last month, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu’s visit to Senegal and Gabon in June and EAM Jaishankar’s visit to Rwanda is also seen as an initiative to strengthen bilateral relations between India and Africa.
India and Africa have also recognised the significance of safety, prosperity and security of the Indian Ocean Region. Moreover, their situation in the Indo-Pacific as well as the Horn of Africa has also been put to discussion. The African countries are looking for investments from India’s private sector areas such as automobile, agro-processing, manufacturing as well as affordable housing. Africa has emerged as the destination of choice for many overseas companies. Therefore, India’s trade and investment interests in this vast continent are on the rise; with the belief that the Indian companies can offer accessible, attainable and sustainable goods and services that the growing continent requires. It’s not that the Indian compa¬nies are just engaging in trade and invest¬ment, but they are also working with governments and communities for building a presence over the longer term.
The development of Africa, offers huge opportunities across sectors, including manufacturing, infrastructure, services, and agriculture. At the same time, India too can benefit from Africa’s natural resources to fuel its own growth. Although, governance has been a challenge in providing the right environment to function, but as more and more countries move towards democracy and stable investment climates, there is a belief that the coming decades will see the action moving to Africa.
Presently, the mega trends in Africa are supportive and cooperative of India’s trade and investments in the region. Africa’s large working-age population, its growing middle class, and the notable share of services are all elements for enriching trade and investment relationships.

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