We have a separate unit for Africa where debt relief and labour related problems are threatening this continent which is facing the problems of infantile democracy.
India has announced 200 million dollars of Lines of Credit for NEPAD projects in Africa. It has commited 500 million dollars of Lines of Credit to eight West African Countries under Team-9 partnership. Indian companies are invited to explore project opportunities under this LOC. Physically, Africa forms the western fringe of the Indian Ocean, which had connected it to the subcontinent through maritime trade routes down the ages. But post-independent India slowly drifted towards viewing Africa through the lone prism of third world solidarity and non-alignment.
Africa was not seen as a neighbor but as a rhetorical item on India’s exalted global agenda. And Africans became fellow travelers in the struggle against imperialism, neo-colonialism and racial discrimination.
India launched an integrated programme “Focus Africa” from the year 2002-03. The main objective of the programme is to increase interactions between the two regions by identifying the areas of bilateral trade and investment. The “Focus Africa” programme emphasized on seven major trading partners of the region, namely Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana, which together account for around 69% of India’s total bilateral trade with the sub-Saharan Africa region.
Africa as a whole, for Indian business, is still a largely uncharted territory. The existing level of business ties between India and Africa does not reflect the full potential. The consolidation of Indo-Africa economic co-operation, bilateral or multilateral, can usher in a new era of South-south co-operation. India has also begun to recognize its responsibility to contribute to African security not just through the United Nations peacekeeping operations, but in joining the international efforts to end the many civil wars that have wreaked havoc in the continent.
Until recently, fighting the West was the central theme of India’s Africa policy. Now, in the transformed regional and international context, New Delhi has to work with the West in bringing peace and prosperity to Africa.
During the last decade, India tried to reach out to many of its neighboring regions that had become politically distant during the Cold War. India’s insular economic policies too helped snap historic trade relations with many of its neighbors.
India’s rediscovery of its neighborhood included South East Asia and the Persian Gulf. The former was the object of the much analysed “look east’’ policy and the Gulf became central to India’s energy diplomacy.
India’s share of total exports to the East African region has not been impressive, considering the market potential. The two principal reasons behind this are the huge information gap between India and these countries, and the lack of will on the part of the Indian trading community to be present physically in those markets to gauge the changes first hand.
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