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Africa offers trade options to all: India

world Updated: May 23, 2011 23:05 IST
Jayanth Jacob

Dubbing India and China competing with each other for influence in Africa a notion promoted by the West, New Delhi said there was space for everyone in partnering with the continent as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here on a six-day Africa tour.

There are comparisons being made between India and its biggest neighbour, China, in their active interests in Africa.

"Our interests are very different. Our main focus is not on excavation industries. At the same time there is space for everyone. The West would like to picture that India and China are competing with each other in Africa. That suits there goals,” officials travelling with the Prime Minister said.

“Africa presents a great opportunity. We are focussed mostly on capacity building, training, institution building, agriculture etc,” sources pointed out. “We have to understand the African sensitivities and we have to do what they want us to do,” officials said.

“There is a large Chinese presence in the continent. They are mostly focused on infrastructure, raw materials and extractive industries.

Chinese commercial presence is concentrated. Ours is small business presence scattered throughout Africa," official sources said. Though India is pushing the Africa cause aggressively since 2008, China has made rapid strides in the continent. With 45 million US $, India's bilateral trade with Africa is way behind that of China's, estimated to be around $108 billion.

The PM will co-chair the second India-Africa Forum summit with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, chairman of the African Union (AU) and president of Equatorial Guinea.

The two sides plan firm up long-standing partnership that will entail expansion of trade and investment as well as closer coordination over a range of global issues including terrorism, piracy, climate change and the UN reforms.

The summit is expected to come out with the Addis Ababa Declaration setting out the road map for further consolidating the strategic partnership.