India’s Engagements in Africa

Sanusha Naidu’s informative article in A Scramble for Africa delineates deepening involvement in resource extraction, entrepreneurial activities, diplomatic initiatives and strategic alliances.

According to Naidu, India is expected by 2030 to become the world’s third largest consumer of energy, surpassing Japan and Russia. Africa, particularly Nigeria, supplies 11 percent of India’s oil demands. Much of India’s involvement in Africa has been overshadowed by the Chinese, but it is quite apparent from Naidu’s discussion that it is a key player. For example, India’s national oil corporations are dispersed throughout the continent. In Cote d’Ivoire, a conglomerate of various Indian companies have invested over $1 billion. In Nigeria, the National Thermal Power Corporation has invested $1.7 billion, the Indian Oil Corporation $3.5 billion in oil refinery and $2 to $4 billion in liquefied natural gas plant and oil refinery. In Sudan, Videocon Group has invested $100 million.

Indian companies have also become involved in uranium exploration. Naidu mentions that in 2007, the government of Niger provided 23 permits to 3 Canadian firms, 3 British firms and an Indian company named Taurian Resources to excavate uranium in the country. In total, the firms invested $55 million.

In 2008, the outcome of an India-Africa summit included agreements that outlined commitments by the Indian government to provide $500 million in development projects across Africa in the next five years, creating an India-Africa peace corps dedicated to development projects, and doubling trade from $25 t0 $50 billion by 2011. Indian companies have assumed a significant presence in Zambia, with Vendanta Resources investing $750 million in copper mining. The Tata group also operates widely on the continent, committing to $800 million renovation of the Taj Pamodji Hotel in Lusaka, a vehicle assembly plant in Zambia, construction of a $12 million instant coffee processing plant in Uganda and more projects in Ghana, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania.

Naidu argues that the Indian government is strategically presenting itself as an advocate of Africa with comparable presence to China with a similar aim of exploiting Africa’s resources for its own economic development.

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