India-Africa Relations | UPSC Notes

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India-Africa Relations | UPSC Notes

India-Africa Relations


  1. India’s engagement with Africa has its ‘own unique script’, based on what Modi called ‘a strong emotional link’ defined by our shared history & aspirations.
  • Shared history, P2P ties, common Dev challenges & S–S co-op
  • The spirit of ‘developing together as equals’ defines their bilateral rel.
  1. Harsh vardhan Shringla—“Why I-A bond matters”—
  • Cultural aspects is striking— There is a little bit of Africa in every Indian & a little bit of India in every part of Africa. 
  • Highlights parallels b/w “African way & Indian way”


  • Till 1960s—Leading role in Africa’s de-colonisation + Afro-Asia Solidarity (NAM) + ensured peace & stability through PKO (Congo—1960-64)   
  • 2nd phase (1970s-1990s)— Less vibrant due—
    1. 1962 war— Many African govt either remained neutral or supported China.
    2. Instability in Afric due to C.W rivalry
    3. Indian diaspora became a target of xenophobia—mass exodus—Kenya, Uganda (1972).

Thus, Relations in 20th century were tepid as each focused inward.

  • 3rd phase (since 1990s)— Constantino Xavier—Africa suddenly re-emerged on India’s strategic radar, just after economic reforms (search for new markets & raw material)
    1. Harsh vardhan Shringla—There is a new energy & new electricity to the India-Africa equation in recent yr
    2. Harsh V. Pant— India’s recent sustained & systematic outreach is a welcome move after years of only intermittent attention
    3. Increasing footprints of china provided momentum to India in breaking its inertia

Importance of Africa

  1. Geo-political—UNSC reforms + Common interests in CC, WTO
    • Sreeram Chaulia—Our fates r intertwined —Unless Africa is with us on the big crises facing planet, we can never turn into a great power.
  2. Geo-economics— 
    • Market + investments destination
    • Emerging growth pole of world
    • Energy security—15% of oil + NG
    • Resource— Diamond, Gold, Uranium
    • Food security— Pvt sector invest in Africa’s land— India imports pulses
    • Blue economy
  3. Geo-strategic
    • Counter Conventional & Non conven security threats (Islamic fundamentalism, piracy, OCGs, TGs)
    • Maritime security
    • Counter China’s Strategic presence
  • Maritime co-op
    • “Indian Ocean is a natural bridge b/w them—so maritime co-op is an imp aspect of rel
    • Sreeram Chaulia— India’s outreach to Africa is a part of its well-thought-out doctrine of giving primacy to IoR 
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Indian policy— 21st century 

  1. India’s relation with Africa are at 3 levels-
    • Pan-African— AU, IAFS since 2008
    • Regional—SADC, EAC, ‘Team-9’
    • Bilaterally—Red fort Declaration (Strategic partnership b/w India & SA) 
  2. Multi-pronged policy—
    • Develop co-op— Capacity building & training, LoC, ITEC, Scholarships, Training military officials, Tele edu & tele medicine
    • Economic—Blue Economy, IT, health, agri, mining, Duty-free tariff preferential scheme
    • Tech co-op—ITEC Pan-African E-Network 

Harsh V. Pant— Nowhere India’s Dev outreach more evident than in Africa     

  1. Working with like minded countries—AAGC
  2. Frequent high level visits
  3. Diaspora diplomacy

10 guiding principles— PM Modi-concrete framework for Africa policy. 

  • Africa will be at top of India priorities.
  • I-A Dev partnership to be guided by African priorities.
  • Support Africa’s dev, improve service delivery, digital literacy, financial inclusion by digital Rev

Comparison of Indian & Chinese model of Dev in Africa—

  1. India’s approach is based on Gandhi’s ideas—There will be “commerce of ideas & services and not of raw materials & goods like imperialist powers”.  
  2. Sharing & caring model of co-op, free of conditions
  3. People-centric policy— “Africa-owned” & “Africa-led” Dev 
  4. Harsh vardhan Shringla—India’s ass with Africa is about human touch— Each African student arrives as a scholar, stays as a friend & returns as an ambassador of India
  5. Modi—
    • “India’s Dev partnership with Africa is beyond strategic & economic concerns—Based on emotional bonds we share & solidarity we feel for each other,”
    • India’s priority is not just Africa; India’s priority is Africans   

Chinese model

  1. Prof. Sreeram Chaulia— China is a mineral-grabber out to plunder Africa while India’s message is that “we are not here to exploit” & “we want to be partners in Dev”
  2. Rajiv Bhaitia— India & China app r essentially diff—
    • China’s “Debt-Trap Diplomacy”, whereas India focusses on Dev of Africa’s HRs.
    • China goes solo, while India works with others willing nations
    • India is not “prescriptive” & is committed to a voluntary partnership with Africa—This enlightened approach offers “limitless possibilities” for I-A co-op
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Challenges in India’s Africa policy

  • Lacks a African Doctrine or Pan-African policy
  • Less diplomatic missions— 30— US & China has 50.
  • Low Trade & investment
  • C. Rajamohan—Gap b/w Delhi’s promise & performance on defence diplomacy continues to grow. Meanwhile, Chinese security co-op with Africa has advanced at a break-neck pace.


  1. Shyam Saran—
  • This is a continent of future & India’s long term prospects are closely tied to success of its Africa strategy.
  • India should not play a game of catch-up with China. Rather it is more imp to leverage its own unique strength 
  1. Amb Anil Trigunayat—“Africa First” should remain the core lever of engagement for India’s goodwill & NI


  • Hamid Ansari—”India Africa co-op is genuine 2 way street partnership”
  • Modi—‘Today the heartbeat of 1.25 bl Indians & 1.25 Africans r in rhythm’