In 2002, with the support of the Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank), the Focus Africa programme was launched in order to expand economic cooperation with the states of the region. Initially, the focus was on Kenya, Mauritius and Ethiopia, followed by Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Ghana, and the project currently involves 24 African countries. India lends to these countries in order to develop and support the import of goods and services from India. In addition, Indian companies wishing to export products to these countries receive a special status and support from local governments. In 2004, India, together with eight West African states, launched the TEAM-9 (Technical and Economic Cooperation between India and Africa) initiative, which was aimed at expanding and strengthening economic relations. As part of this initiative, India wanted, among other things, to participate in the development of oil reserves in the Gulf of Guinea.
Such programmes contributed to an increase in trade volumes. Despite the fact that China remains the clear leader in bilateral trade with African countries, India is gradually becoming a significant trading partner for the region. About 8% of India’s exports go to Africa, and the share of Indian imports in African countries is 9%. Trade between India and the African countries increased from $5.3 billion in 2001 to $66.7 billion in 2020. In addition to expanding and diversifying trade relations, the Indian government is supporting private investors. For example, the Confederation of Indian Industry regularly organises India-Africa forums for companies from both sides.
India’s main trading partners in Africa are Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria, which account for 89% of Indian imports from the continent. As the Indian economy grew and energy demand increased, India began to import more crude oil and gas from the region. This has led to India meeting many of its energy needs with supplies from Africa; the region accounts for 24% of India’s oil imports. As a result, New Delhi is now less dependent on supplies from the Middle East. African countries are also of interest to India as suppliers of uranium; reserves of the radioactive metal are located in Niger and Namibia. In addition, the country imports gold, precious stones, ores, chemicals and agricultural products.
Indian exports mainly consist of petroleum products, automobiles and auto parts, pharmaceuticals, industrial equipment, textiles, electronics and IT equipment. Exports of Indian pharmaceuticals and medicine to Africa have been among the fastest growing since the beginning of the 21st century. Indian companies play an important role in providing affordable medicine and vaccines Africa sorely needs to treat the region’s deadly diseases. For example, thanks to Indian vaccines, countries in the African “meningitis belt” were able to overcome meningococcal meningitis, and tens of thousands of HIV-infected Africans gained access to an Indian generic developed in 2003 to prevent the disease.
India is one of the ten largest investors in African countries. Several Indian public and private enterprises have expanded their presence in the region since the early 2000s. African countries rich in minerals are attracting investors to the development of the extractive industry. Indian businesses see the region’s potential, and are investing in telecommunications, construction, information technology, finance, banking, healthcare and food processing.
Compared to the PRC, Indian investment is quite limited in terms of South-South cooperation; between 2008 and 2018 it amounted to about $56 billion. Most investments go to one country: Mauritius, which has a special taxation regime. Mozambique and South Africa are also major recipients of investment. Many Indian companies interested in investing in Africa face obstacles that make it difficult to do business. Investors note the lack of information about relevant national markets in Africa, the lack of infrastructure, high transport costs, poor business climate and corruption.
Security cooperation occupies a special place in Indo-African relations. It manifests in the joint fight against terrorism and extremism, ensuring cyber security, conducting joint military exercises and participating in UN peacekeeping missions in the region.
Russia, like India, has always stood for freedom and supported the anti-colonial liberation movements in Africa. The Soviet Union actively participated in the creation and development of industrial and energy infrastructure on the continent. At present, Russia is undergoing a “pivot to the East”, and Africa can become a priority region for Russian foreign policy. Russia traditionally cooperates with the states of North Africa and South Africa (they account for 70% of Russia’s trade with the African continent), while India is also active in Sub-Saharan Africa. The interests of Russia and India largely coincide in Africa. The main areas of cooperation between both countries and Africa are the creation of energy, transport, military-industrial infrastructure, the supply of equipment for the mining industry and metallurgy, projects for the development of agriculture and healthcare. Many areas of interaction between Russia and India in Africa are more developed in our country, so it can compete with India, for example, in nuclear energy, the military-industrial complex, the chemical industry, cybersecurity and digitalisation.