The African Safari: Understanding the Sino-Indian Competition in Africa
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to attend the second India-Africa forum summit and the initiatives he announced, is an attempt to secure an economic, cultural and strategic space in Africa to counter the ever-growing Chinese influence in the continent. China and India are now seriously competing with each other to engage resource-rich Africa, thus giving a new dimension to South-South relations.
While India's trade with Africa's eastern and southern regions dates back to the days of the Silk Road, China’s thrust into the area is rather recent, and is focussed mostly in infrastructure. Africa's exports to China increased at an annual rate of 48 per cent between 2000 and 2005, which is two and a half times as fast as the rate of the region's export to the US and four times as fast as the rate of its export to the European Union (EU) over the same period. India and China have burgeoning middle classes with rising incomes and purchasing power, whose members are increasingly buying Africa's light manufactured products, household consumer goods and processed foods and using its back-office services, tourism facilities and telecommunications. Where is this competition headed towards?