India Surge: Lessons for Africa

Published on 24th May 2011

India’s formal solidarity with Africa dates back to the 1955 Bandung Conference that was hosted by Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Trade between India and Africa hit US $ 46 billion last year and is expected to reach US $ 70 billion by 2015. Indian private sector entrepreneurs have made investments in excess of US $ 25 billion in a wide range of sectors. India's involvement in Africa is not confined to trade volumes; they have contributed in enriching the continent's cuisine and language through "soft power" approach. 

African countries ought to pick vital lessons from India. As one of the world's largest democracy; India is successful in managing its diverse ethnic and cultural diversity. India invested in looking inward and later unleashed its potential to the world after taking full stock of its capabilities. India has invested heavily in tapping into its Diaspora population that left the subcontinent over 400 years ago. Lastly, India still a developing country, has not opted to surrender to "know-it-all" bureaucrats from Western Capitals - India listens to them but India makes it own decisions. India is knocking the African door now as an investor and not as some British coolie sent to lay railway lines. 

Africa must take stock and reflect on whether the status of running continental affairs as 54 separate "chiefdoms" puts it at an advantage or disadvantage against emerging powers. India is sure welcome to widen Africa's menu alongside that offered by China and traditional allies from the West. Unless Africans take proactive steps to reflect and facilitate informed engagement - THEY might find THEMSELVES in the trap of begging for toys as actual wealth departs the continent.


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