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Engagement of External Powers in Africa: Takeaways for India

The Government of India has been paying greater attention to the India-Africa engagement since 2014, but Africa still struggles to be considered a top priority, in the fullest sense. The need is for assessing correctly the nature of ‘the third scramble’ for Africa i.e., to examine the broader geopolitical landscape where about a dozen foreign powers have been engaged in mutual competition, while expanding and deepening their cooperation with the continent. Four distinct categories of Africa’s external partners are: China, the West, Asia and others. A critical analysis of their policies and strategies reveals that all of them are guided by a spectrum of motivations such as assisting Africa, benefitting from its resources and markets, and seeking geopolitical influence. But the exact mix of these motivations varies from country to country.

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India’s relationship with Africa, when viewed in the longer historical perspective, makes it unique, for its faith in equality and mutual benefit, need-based assistance, and a partnership that respects Africa’s agency. But this engagement needs constant sustenance.

Key takeaways for India:

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Amb. Rajiv Bhatia is Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Programme, Gateway House.

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