Friday, July 4, 2008


In the past year and a half all three countries China, India, and Japan have hosted summits in Africa trying to lure Africa and attract its resources and engage in “mutually beneficial” business.

You probably already know about China and ushering in neo-imperialism. Isn’t it funny, though, that the only continent I have heard anyone talk about 21st century neo-imperialism is on the continent of Africa. We are the continent with some of the newest nations. In direct competition with China for future superpower (some would say they are a power now) is India. Let the battle begin.

In early April India held the India-Africa summit which was attended by some heads of African states like the presidents of South Africa, Uganda, and Ethiopia. And in Round 1 of this battle Royale a decade ago, India was winning with more reciprocal trade with Africa than the amount of trade China had. But China has overtaken China with $55 billion to India’s $25 billion even with Indian investment in Nigerian oil. Even in Angola in 2004, when India bid $310 million for an oil block in Angola, China outbid with $700+ million. India was only able to establish solid trade in Nigeria due to forming an alliance (Mittal Energy) with a Dutch company. Round 2 goes to China.

But India still wants to catch up, and India is also interested in African natural resources just like China. And both want to sell their products (manufacturing and technology [for India]) to Africa. Telecommunications and videoconferencing are just two examples of products and services India is interested in bringing to Africa.

According to the Economist (where this info comes from), India also deals quite easily with rogue dictators and has not been fought by human rights activist simply because it’s dealings and trade is on a smaller scale. But as it increases, look for such concerns to be raised, especially if India were to try to host an Olympic Games! ;-)

Luckily India has a few advantages like the many Indians living in Africa. Here in South Africa we have around 1 million, many of whom trace their ancestry to the days that the British empire brought them to South Africa (and other African nations) as laborers. An Indians like to do business with other Indians, where there are other Indians. In other words, Indians are more integrated into African culture; they employ more Africans than Chinese firms in Africa.

Even Japan has a presence here and jumped in the fray with their Tokyo International Conference on African Development (held May 28th) in which 40 or so heads of African states attended (along with Bono) who were promised to be personally and individually met by Fukuda, Japan’s prime minister. Japan wants to increase its aid to Africa by 2012 to 3.4 billion dollars give more low-interest loans to African nations (up to $4 billion) with no strings attached. Japan would like African support in being voted to receive a permanent seat on the Security Council.

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