China’s increasing influence in Africa has attracted great attention in recent years. But Asia’s other rising power, India, is also becoming more active on this front, as its economic links are moving beyond its traditional partners in the British Commonwealth. Indeed, India’s non-oil trade with West Africa currently stands at more than $3 billion and is rising fast, accounting for 1.2% of the country’s total foreign trade.
India’s economic activity in Africa goes far beyond its ever popular Bollywood movies. Indian investment in Côte d’Ivoire is expected to grow to $1 billion by 2011, which represents 10% of total Indian foreign investment in the last decade. India’s state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC Videsh) produces Sudanese oil, and over the next two years Indian diplomatic missions will open in Mali, Gabon, Niger, and Burkina Faso. Until 2003, the Indian Foreign Ministry had a single Africa division; it now has three: West and Central Africa, East and Southern Africa, and West Asia and North Africa.
A study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry identified five main sectors that can act as “engines of growth” to boost Indo-Africa trade: pharmaceuticals and the health sector, information technology, water management, food processing, and education.
Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa. Bilateral annual trade turnover exceeds $3 billion, with oil constituting more than 96% of Indian imports from Nigeria. India maintains a three-pronged strategy: term contract for crude purchase, participation in the upstream sector, and refineries.