Week 8 India in Africa

Week 8: Emerging powers: India in Africa

The reading this week discuss the political and economic dynamics of Indian involvement in Africa. Indian interests in Africa range for commercial, diplomatic and energy interests. These interests serve the goal growing India’s prominence in global affairs. It appears India takes a keen interest in African investment in order to match or counter Chinese stakes in the region. India and China have a long standing rivalry which appears to extend to the African sphere. It is noted that India cannot match Chinese investment dollar for dollar and as such India pursues more mutually beneficial arrangements in order to maintain interest and reception toward Indian Investments. It is interesting to see the differing dynamics in engagement between Africa and China or India. China takes a state to state level approach with investments in infrastructure and officials agreements. India takes a broader approach in that it encourages private investment along with state interests.

The account by Luke Patey of Indian investment in Sudan also demonstrates the self-serving gaols of the Indian government as well as some of the rivalry with China. Investing in Sudan for oil is a contentious issue as the in and around the oil fields were stricken by conflict between the Sudanese government and rebel forces. The region has subsequently gained independent following the end of the decade long conflict. The issue was controversial at the time as oil companies were seen as complicit in the violence on the part of the Sudanese government. It is interesting to consider that India made a deliberate strategic decision to invest as a part of a plan to pressure energy needs once western oil companies had made their exit as well as a political move to gain favour with Sudan as well as to better compete with China. Sudan benefitted by having Indian investment and support for global issues. Here we can see the mutually beneficial approach pursued by India in order to achieve goals described by Taylor. The competition between India and China is an important consideration as it states the domestic and foreign policy of associated African states. It is troubling to consider the implications for African states should India and China come into conflict or dispute. Would African states remain neutral or pick sides in supporting one side or the other?


An article recently released by Wall Street Journal detail the agreement between India and Sri Lanka for assistance with the Sri-Lankan nuclear program. The deal is beneficial for Sri Lanka as it reduces direct dependence upon China and allows it more freedom with respect to foreign a domestic policy.  Though not an African State, Sri Lanka is a close neighbour to India with considerable Chinese investment and Infrastructure. The article recounts that it is a strategic move by India to assist Sri Lanka as a move to rival Chinese influence in the region. India has concerns over Chinese naval Presence in the Indian Ocean which it seeks to rival in the near future.

Discussion Questions:

As the readings discuss Indian involvement in Africa it is clear that there are elf-serving goals being considered. Similar to China Africa is treated a platform from which to pursue economic growth and political clout on global affairs. Due to these trends, does this make Africa a passive factor in terms of the global economy and international relations as was during Imperial Colonization or will it come to benefit Africa states as it might eventually provide more agency to African states due to increased growth and importance?


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