Africa, India relationship – sharing the development journey

Like India, Africa is a continent of rich and compelling diversity. While certain qualities differentiate them, both, the continent and the country, share similar realities like the landscape, similar colonial history, and similar economic and demographic challenges.

This helps both India and Africa work especially well with each other because their challenges are somewhat similar.

The cooperation between these two is both necessary and important enough to be maintained.

At the end of the 2015 India-Africa Forum, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced substantial credits and grant assistance which benefited the relationship. In addition to an India-Africa Development Fund, an India-Africa Health Fund and 50,000 scholarships for African students in India.

In the last decade, India’s joint trade with Africa has risen exponentially from $11.9 billion in 2005/2006 to $56.7 billion in 2015/2016. It is projected that it will reach $100 billion by 2018.

This is attributed mainly to initiatives by India’s private sector, and here again, the two are on the same wave length. It is projected that the private sector will be the critical element in Africa’s transformation.

In most cases, African countries are targeted by Indian investors due to their high-growth markets and mineral rich reserves. India is currently the fifth largest investor country in Africa, with investments over the past 20 years amounting to $54 billion, 19.­2% of its entire total Foreign Direct Investment.

Despite a tough global economic environment and dire climate, African countries remain resilient, springing back with enviable vitality. Their economies, on average, grew by 2.2% in 2016, and are expected to rise to 3.4% this year.

This average estimation however falls sho­rt of painting the true picture of the situation. Records indicate that 14 African economies grew by over 5% in 2016 and 18 countries grew between 3 to 5%, it is still a significant performance in a period when the global environment has been impeded by recession.

By 2050, Africa will have roughly the same population as China and India combined today, with high consumer demand from a growing middle class and nearly a billion ambitious and hard-working young people. The cities will be booming, as the populations (and economic expectations) rise exponentially around the continent.

This is the future reality of Africa that the partnership with India will help shape in their strategic partnership. This partnership, now more than ever, is needed in the aspect of infrastructure.

Without question, the first infrastructural challenge to be tackled is power and electricity. Even though millions of Africans remain without reliable power, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has since last year moved into the forefront of correcting that anomaly with huge grid and off grid systems to help solve that situation.

Universal access requires large financial investments. By some estimates, Africa requires $43-$55 billion per year until the 2030’s, compared to current energy investments of about $8-$9.2 billion.

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