The Elephant in the Corner? Reviewing India-Africa Relations in the New Millennium

Abstract: As countries of the ‘global South’ seek to challenge existing uneven architectures of economic, political and institutional power, now under different circumstances to those prevailing during the Cold War, relations between African countries and various ‘Rising Powers’ have drawn a great deal of academic and public attention. This scrutiny has been heavily tilted towards analysis of China’s African activities. This paper aims to partially redress this balance with an introductory review of India’s contemporary relations with sub‐Saharan Africa. A number of analysts suggest that in the longer term, India may well achieve a more prosperous and stable economy than China, while in the shorter term, its economic and political profile may result in a more productive relationship for many different African countries, sectors and constituencies. But India will also bring its own challenges in its African commercial interactions, bilateral relations and through its part in shaping the multilateral polity and global economy. This paper therefore aims to critically review contemporary India‐Africa relations on four broad thematic points.

  1. Changing geographies of Indo‐African relations;
  2. Trade and foreign direct investment;
  3. Development cooperation; and
  4. Geopolitics and diplomacy. India’s confidence as a global political and economic actor is apparent in its African diplomacy and economic engagements, but claims to exceptionalism (relative both to Chinese and Western actors) in such relations are not as self‐evident as some have asserted. Whether recent shifts in relations between African nations and India will work in the interests of less privileged citizens, workers and consumers in Africa and in India also remain unclear.

Post Description

  • Publication year: 2010
  • Publication Type: Research Paper
  • Form of Cooperation: Comprehensive (Lines of credit, grants and loans, and technical assistance).
  • Cooperation Context: Multilateral
  • Region (Recipient country): Africa
  • Sector: Multi-sectoral
  • The Institution (Publication): – Geography Compass
  • Author (and co-authors): Emma Mawdsley and Gerard McCann
  • Keywords: South-South cooperation; India-Africa historical relations; Changing geographies of Indo-African relations; Development cooperation; Trade and Investment; Diplomacy and geopolitics
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