When was the last time an Indian prime minister travelled to four African countries in one stretch? It’s a tough one, and is sure to evoke a long pause, followed by silence and murmurs of can’t remember. This question has been asked with a tinge of anguish many a time in Africa circles, but with Prime Minister Narendra Modi heading to Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania early this week, it’s going to be replaced, mercifully, by what’s next.Read More
2016 is set to be the year of Africa for India’s diplomacy, with Narendra Modi heading on the first-ever four-nation tour by an Indian prime minister to the continental Africa in decades. PM Modi’s visit, preceded by President Pranab Mukherjee’s visits to Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire and Namibia and Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s trips to Morocco and Tunisia, has raised the bar for India’s diplomatic outreach to Africa, and underscores the emergence of the resurgent continent as an important pole in the country’s foreign policy calculus.
The clichéd narrative of competition and rivalry between India and China in Africa is a tad overplayed as the two Asian powers have different core strengths and models of engaging Africa. India can’t possibly surpass China in terms of trade volumes in the near term, but Modi’s visit to the four African countries is meant to signal that India is raising the game and is ready to match its rhetoric with resources and core strengths to expand and transform a mutually empowering partnership with the renascent continent.