Summit meeting of BRIC held in South China, which includes the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, have condemned the western imperialist war against the North African state of Libya., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
India, Africa hold summit to boost trade
TodayChina, India's quest is driven by energy needs for its quick-paced economic growth. But India's ties with Africa are based more on private sector investment whereas Beijing concentrates on the extractive industries and infrastructure development
NAIROBI: India will seek to expand its economic footprint in Africa, where rival China has made major inroads, at a second summit between the Southeast Asian powerhouse and African nations this week.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will head his country’s team to the May 24-25 meeting being held in Addis Ababa after a similar summit in 2008 in New Delhi, which led to an increase in trade between the two regions.
Like China, India’s quest is driven by energy needs for its quick-paced economic growth. But India’s ties with Africa are based more on private sector investment whereas Beijing concentrates on the extractive industries and infrastructure development.
Despite being home to the bulk of the world’s poorest countries, Africa is endowed with minerals, oil and other natural resources and remains a key destination for new ventures such as telecommmunications and IT.
“Africa offers a great market for India’s entrepreneurs,” said Pritam Banerjee, trade and international policy chief at the Confederation of Indian Industry, a leading trade body.
“India will emerge as a major supplier to Africa in engineering, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, automotives, farm equipment and a host of other sectors.”
The 2008 India-Africa summit saw India give preferential market access to exports from all the Least Developed Countries, many of them in Africa, as well as increase credit lines to Africa.
Last year, India’s imports from Africa were worth dollar 20.7 billion, compared with dollar 18.7 billion the previous year, and its exports stood at dollar 10.3 billion the same year.
But China’s trade with Africa remains far heftier, with its bilateral trade in 2010 totalling dollar 126.9 billion, a 39-percent rise from 2009, according to official figures.
The summit in the Ethiopian capital opening Tuesday is expected to culminate in the adoption of two major trade agreements.
In 2010, India’s Bharti Airtel – the world’s fifth-largest mobile phone company – acquired the 16-African country unit of Kuwaiti telecom firm Zain at a cost of dollar 10.7 billion.
India also has interests in minerals and investments in manufacturing. The Tata Group for instance is present in 11 African countries.
For many of Africa’s developing countries the balance of trade is often in favour of foreign states whose Foreign Direct Investments are mainly in extracting activities.
According to a recent report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, such trends have had the negative effect of reinforcing the commodity dependence of many poor countries.
Other than trade, India also aims to bolster its diplomatic and security presence in Africa, home to some one billion people.
The Indian navy in 2008 joined the anti-piracy patrols in the key shipping routes of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean where rampaging Somali pirates continue to hijack merchant vessels.
Both regions also back each other for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council under envisaged reforms of the world body.
The Addis Ababa meeting will be attended by the African Union’s current chairman, Equatorial Guniea’s President Theodore Obiang Nguema, Malawian leader Bingu wa Mutharika and the pan-African bloc’s Commission chief Jean Ping.
Also expected are the presidents of Algeria, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa as well as the leaders of Africa’s eight regional economic groups.