„India in Africa:
Exploitation, Mutual Trade or Aid Donor?“
When talking about globalization and new world power, one today has to mention China and India as the two countries where economy is growing at its maximum. China, the leader of the two countries has increasing relations to Africa since the mid 90s, whereas Indian interests in Africa are noticeable since the last six years (Heinrich Böll Stiftung, 2006: 2). With a growing economy, a bigger demand for natural resources comes along, which both countries try to find in Africa, which is at fifth position of world’s oil stocks. According to that fact Africa is getting more and more attention from the New Global Players, and one can find a lot of research about this fact.
In this paper I want to have a closer look on the Indian – African relations of the last years and its roots. What does this mean for Africa, what for India? What are the perceptions of both? Are Indian interests only noticeable in economic sectors, can we constitute an exploitation which means flows only in one direction?
Or is it a mutual trade for both, whereas Africa with its many countries and India can take advantage out of it? A last idea could be also, that India only wants to deepen its relations with some African countries like Mauritius, South-Africa, Sudan and East-Africa where connections already exists since the Non-Alignment Movement with its beginning in 1955 (Biallas/Knauer, 2006: 2).
To answer the question which meaning Africa has for India I will first glance at the origin of the link between both, India and Africa to find out, where contacts started and what it means today.
In a second part India´s new African policy should be considered with
relations to the economy, political and cultural spheres.
Indians African policy – extensive relations already in early years after Indians independence or a new phenomenon?
When India became independent from the British in 1947 it became a very important role among the developing countries which one can consider in the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM). Countries of the third world declared in this movement its political independence from the Eastern bloc and the US. India began to struggle for decolonisation and discrimination in Africa, which was highly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (Beri 2003: 2). For decades India felt solidarity with the African continent and stopped treating African countries as a bloc. New selected friendships took place and a policy of economic diplomacy was launched in the mid 1960s (Beri 2003: 2).
Indias´s new African policy – a challenge for whom?
With the end of the cold war, the NAM became less important and India also changed the ideologica” view with liberalisation of the economy from 1991 on. Economic interests were increasing and with the rise of Indians economy from this time on, things changed a bit. With those changes also the Indian policy towards “people of Indian origin (PIO)” (Beri 2003: 2) changed. The Indian Diaspora in Africa was spread within several countries in eastern and southern Africa and for example in Mauritius there were about 716.000 Indians, which is about 60 percent of the total population. Even more PIOs lived in South-Africa (1.2 million, 6,25 percent)
(Biallas/Knauer 2006: 4). In contrast to early years India today sees the PIOs worldwide as a chance, so does it in Africa. We can consider that the recollection of the PIOs is a part of economic interests in the continent. India now wants to use its retaining connections to bring out more of it, for example use the knowledge of the people there to invest more easily, because structures were assembled in the past.
This could be seen as an argument that India wants to exploit not only the continent, but also its own people, which have gained only little attention the decades before? Is this rash argument true?
Let us now have a look at some economic data to have deeper impressions about Indian explorations in Africa or at least in some countries.
In “The Rise of China and India”, a development report of the OECD (2006) one could find lots of data according to India on the southern continent and the authors make up, that “in fact, African trade with China and India has shown striking dynamism since 2000” (OECD 2006: 19-20). African exports are stronger with China, but also trade with India was increasing colossal from 1990 until 2004 with almost 1000 percent (China: 4000 percent).
While India delivered 4,5 percent of its exports to Africa between 1997 and 2003 the share of the imports from Africa was about 7,5 percent (Biallas/Knauer 2006:6).
 In this paper „Africa“ refers to sub-Saharan Africa.