India Africa Relations

JUL 25

Mains   > International relations   >   India and Global Regions   >   India & Africa


  • Forty high-level Ministers from 17 African nations attended the CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership, a two-day investment meet at Delhi.


  • India and Africa share a long and rich relationship, with our freedom movement becoming an inspiration for African nationalists in their desire for independence from colonialism.
  • In present times, both India and Africa desire a mutually beneficial relationship by collaborating through lucrative trade and investment opportunities.
  • The structured engagement and cooperation works in three tiers:
    • At a pan-Africa, continental level with the African Union
    • At regional and sub-regional level with the various African Regional Economic Communities
    • Bilaterally, with individual African countries


  • South-South cooperation:
    • A resurging Africa can give a strong impetus to South-South Cooperation, especially when it comes to addressing challenges in areas like clean technology, climate-resilience, maritime security, connectivity, and blue economy.
  • Next growth pole:
    • By 2030, Africa will represent almost a quarter of the world’s workforce and consumers. With 54 countries, a billion people and an abundance of resources, Africa offers a market for India.
  • Resource potential:
    • Africa, especially the western parts, is rich in resources such as uranium, diamonds, copper, phosphates and other minerals. It offers India huge potential for collaboration in resource exploration.

  • Compete with China:
    • China focuses majorly on developing manufacturing capacities and infrastructure in Africa. But India looks to engage with Africa meaningfully, focusing on its core competencies like human resource development, skill development, ITES, education and healthcare services.
  • Regional security:
    • Cooperation with Africa is vital for India to safeguard its interest in Indian ocean region and counter threats like piracy, terrorism, drug trafficking, oil spills and China’s string of pearls strategy.
    • Complemented by Sagar (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and Sagarmala initiatives, the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), with Africa being an equal partner, can potentially be a game-changer in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • Food security:
    • Africa is a food producer and can be a major source to meet India’s growing needs. Eg: In 2016 India signed agreements were signed with Mozambique and Tanzania to incentivise local farmers to grow pulses in order to cover the growing Indian demand with a guaranteed minimum procurement price and quantity.
  • Reforms in governance institutions:
    • Democratic reforms in global institutions are essential. Hence, India and Africa have voiced their support for expanding both permanent and non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
  • Address climate change:
    • India and Africa are committed towards sustainable development and combating climate action, which is evident in India’s SDG commitments and Africa’s Agenda 2063.
  • Diaspora:
    • Indian Diaspora in Africa constitutes 12.37 per cent of the total Diaspora of India. Many among them have attained important positions. They could be crucial in strengthening India-Africa relations.


India’s approach to a development partnership with Africa is guided by the Kampala Principles enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018:

  1. Africa will be at the top of our priorities. We will continue to intensify and deepen our engagement with Africa. As we have shown, it will be sustained and regular.
  2. Our development partnership will be guided by your priorities. We will build as much local capacity and create local opportunities as possible. It will be on terms that are comfortable to you, that will liberate your potential and not constrain your future.
  3. We will keep our markets open and make it easier and more attractive to trade with India. We will support our industry to invest in Africa.
  4. We will harness India’s experience with the digital revolution to support Africa’s development; improve delivery of public services; extend education and health; spread digital literacy; expand financial inclusion; and mainstream the marginalised.
  5. Africa has 60 percent of the world’s arable land, but produces just 10 percent of the global output. We will work with you to improve Africa’s agriculture.
  6. Our partnership will address the challenges of climate change.
  7. We will strengthen our cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism; keeping our cyberspace safe and secure; and, supporting the UN in advancing and keeping peace.
  8. We will work with African nations to keep the oceans open and free for the benefit of all nations. The world needs cooperation and competition in the eastern shores of Africa and the eastern Indian Ocean.
  9. As global engagement in Africa increases, we must all work together to ensure that Africa does not once again turn into a theatre of rival ambitions, but becomes a nursery for the aspirations of Africa’s youth.
  10. Just as India and Africa fought colonialism together, we will work together for a just, representative and democratic global order that has a voice for one-third of humanity that lives in Africa and India.


  • Political relations:
    • India has increased its focus on Africa in recent times by setting up more diplomatic missions and visits. For instance, in 2022, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu undertook a 5-day visit to Gabon and Senegal. In 2019, India announced 18 new Indian diplomatic missions in Africa.
  • Trade relations:
    • India-Africa trade has grown to around 66.7 billion US dollar in 2019-20. Around 8% of Indian imports are from Africa and around 9% of Africa’s imports are from India.
    • 38 African nations have benefited from India’s Duty-Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) scheme which provides duty free access to 98.2 per cent of India’s total tariff lines.
  • Investments:
    • India's cumulative investments in Africa stand at USD 70 billion while it has extended Lines of Credit (LoCs) worth USD 12.26 billion to countries in the continent. India's investments in Africa are in sectors such as oil and gas, mining, banking, pharma, textiles, automotive and agriculture.
    • Eg: More than 50 Indian companies are engaged in Gabon Special Economic Zone.
  • Defence cooperation:
    • Over the years, India has provided training of African military personnel at various Indian institutes such as the Indian Military Academy and the National Defence College.
    • There has also been an increased presence of African delegations at Indian defence exhibitions such as Defence Expo and Aero India.
    • Besides these, there are defence exercises, like the Africa-India Field Training Exercise-2019 (AFINDEX-19).
  • Humanitarian aid:
    • African countries have been significant beneficiaries of Indian Navy’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations missions. Eg: During Cyclone Idai in 2019.
    • Under the Vaccine Maitri initiative, India supplied 24.7 million doses of Made of India Covid vaccines to 42 countries in Africa.
  • Security cooperation:
    • India has several peacekeeping operations in Africa under the aegis of UN Peacekeeping. The deployment of the all-Female Police Unit of the United Nations (UN) in Liberia in February 2016 was a notable effort in this regard.
  • Cyber Security and Digital Revolution:
    • The best example of India’s digital cooperation with Africa is the Pan African e-Network (PAeN) project on tele-education and tele-medicine, launched in 2004.
    • In September 2018, India’s Ministry of External Affairs launched a new network project – e-VidyaBharati and e-ArogyaBharati (e-VBAB), which will establish two separate web-based portals for tele-education and tele-medicine.
    • India has also signed MoUs/joint statements with African countries like Morocco, Egypt2 and Mauritius on cyber security.
  • Promoting electoral democracy:
    • The Election Commission of India (ECI) has partnered with African countries in election management by sending observation missions and providing equipments. Eg: In 2014, Namibia became the first African country to use Electronic Voting Machines made in India.
  • Cooperation over Indian ocean:
    • Naval cooperation continues to grow strong with regular port visits, transfer of hardware and logistical support, naval intelligence, and patrolling of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) being undertaken. The Information Fusion Center, based in Gurugram helps to track and monitor shipping traffic in the Indian Ocean, coordinate incident responses, and share submarine safety information.
  • Addressing climate change:
    • One core dimension of India and Africa’s climate change agenda is promoting green technology. Under the International Solar Alliance (ISA), India has pledged a credit line of USD 2 billion to Africa for the implementation of off-grid solar energy projects.
  • Cooperation on global issues:
    • They have moved joint proposals, such as the Agricultural Framework Proposal and Protection of Geographical Indications, at the WTO and World Intellectual Property Organisation, and have worked towards protecting the food and livelihood concerns of farmers at the Doha Development Round of WTO negotiations.


  • Absence of a clear vision:
    • An assessment of India’s LoCs, grants, and capacity building projects like ITEC reflects the absence of a plan for Africa. Also, there is no synchronisation between different development instruments. Hence, the overall development impact of India’s development cooperation is small and difficult to measure.
  • China factor:
    • China’s deep pockets and the larger trade engagement have seen it garner far greater influence. The soaring debt has the ability to compromise the sovereignty of African states.
    • China has also made strategic investments to aid its string of pearls strategy in Indian ocean, like its military base at Djibouti.
  • Delayed project completion:
    • While India has engaged Africa for long, its capacity to effect changes have been limited primarily due to lack of India’s economic capacity.
  • Limited access to finance:
    • Several international banks have been forced to re-evaluate their businesses, cutting down and restructuring operations, due to concerns about risk and profitability. This has contributed to limited trade expansion with the rest of the world, including India.
  • Challenges from Pandemic:
    • The pandemic is likely to push about 26 million more people into extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. It will be a challenge for a developing country like India to address this situation.
  • Competition from other countries:
    • Developed countries and other emerging powers like China, Brazil and Russia have also been involved in various activities across the continent.
  • Attack on African nationals in India:
    • Instances of attack on African nationals, especially students, on the grounds of xenophobia and racism. If untreated, this could be a potential source of tension between India and Africa and damage the goodwill India currently enjoys in the continent.
  • Anti India sentiments:
    • Instances of opposition against Indian involvement were raised in some African countries. Eg: The decision to jointly develop naval facilities in Assumption Island became embroiled in Seychelles’ domestic politics.
  • Political instability:
    • The pandemic is exacerbating a decline of democracy across sub-Saharan Africa. Africa witnessed five coups in Africa since 2021: Mali, Chad, Guinea, Sudan and Burkina Faso. This, coupled with severe corruption in some African countries will be a major challenge for India in effective cooperation.


  • Clear strategy for African development:
    • India should prepare a focused Africa strategy for the next decade and identify a few areas for closer cooperation.
    • Targeting areas like food and health security, climate change adaptation and gender equality will help improve development outcomes and make India’s development cooperation programme more effective.
  • Continue the current focus on capacity building:
    • The current focus on capacity building is in line with Africa’s needs given the continent’s huge youth population that need skills and jobs. This should continue.
  • Harness Indian soft power:
    • Many Indian civil society organisations and NGOs are playing an important role at the grassroots. The Indian government should explore greater collaboration with these organisations to implement development projects in Africa at low costs.
  • Promote development-friendly private investments:
    • India’s development cooperation should be aligned to its commercial interests in Africa. Therefore, India should try to support Indian companies making investment in development-friendly projects like pharma and mobile payment solutions.
  • Timely completion of projects:
    • Efforts must be made to expedite the LoC projects. Lessons should be drawn from other countries that have a much better record in implementation.
  • Address concerns about academic experience in India:
    • India’s record in providing higher education to African students has been patchy. Therefore, India must make largescale investments in its own higher education sector to project itself as an education hub.
  • Improve the experiences of Africans in India:
    • India should respond to instances of harassment and attacks on African students with the more alacrity. Efforts should also be made to educate Indians about Africa so that people-to-people connections between India and Africa flourish.
  • Digital push:
    • India, as the world’s third largest startup ecosystem with a wide base of small and medium enterprises, could count on its strengths to fortify the digital infrastructure of the entire African continent.


Q. Discuss the prospects and challenges in India Africa relations?

Q. “If the last few decades were of Asia’s growth story, the next few are expected to be of Africa’s.” In the light of this statement, examine India’s influence in Africa in recent years. (UPSC 2021)