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The Big Picture – India-Africa Forum Summit: What is the agenda?

The Big Picture – India-Africa Forum Summit: What is the agenda?


New Delhi is hosting the third India-Africa Forum. It is the largest and most ambitious one, with participation from all 54 African countries, including 40 heads of state. Two documents are mainly being negotiated in this summit. One is a political document which will talk of political partnerships between India and Africa. The other document is framework document of cooperation, which will talk of development partnership of Africa and a line of credit by India. India’s primary aim is to support its African partners in their efforts to accelerate the momentum of their development. The summit will also address key challenges of present times including food, health and environmental security.  

India has extended lines of credit worth $7.5 billion to Africa. India-Africa trade is expected to reach $100 billion by the end of 2015. India typically imports raw material – mainly crude oil and minerals – from Africa. It then exports the manufactured products back to Africa. Some recent studies suggest that market access for Indian firms is increasingly becoming difficult. So, it is vital for India to maintain cordial relationship with Africa.

China has its footprints all over Africa. China has been wooing Africa for the last 15 years. It has been pouring billions of dollars into ports, rail tracks, football stadiums, highways, dams and other major infrastructure projects. China is Africa’s largest trading partner doing an annual trade of roughly $200 billion. Much of the trade is related to getting Africa’s oil and minerals shipped to mainland China. With the slowing down of the Chinese economy there is anxiety among some in Africa and there also exists an opportunity for India. Since, India is aiming for a larger role in global affairs, the support of Africa is really important.

The outcome of the present summit will be judged by converting the promises that are likely to be made on both sides into action. India is hoping to get the support of as many African countries as possible for its bid for permanent membership in an expanded UN Security Council. India believes that India and Africa are not at odds on UN membership and can work together. But unless African Union finalizes its stand it is hard to predict what can happen.