India Matters More Than Ever

Meles Zenawi
Prime Minister of Ethiopia

India has always mattered to Africa. India has always been a principled and unwavering supporter of Africa’s struggle against colonialism. It has been a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement and the struggle of developing countries for a fairer global order. India has since its independence supported Africa’s development efforts, particularly in education. The issue at hand is, therefore, not why India matters to Africa as such, but why India matters to Africa now more than ever.

India matters to Africa more than ever before because India has now incomparably more means to support Africa economically and because Africa itself is on the move after decades in the doldrums.

Since the early 1990s, India has achieved extraordinary levels of growth. This has increased the means at its disposal to support its long-term friend Africa. India has success stories to share with Africa. Africa, in turn, is better placed than ever to make use of such friendly assistance.

Even though India has made tremendous progress since its independence, and particularly over the past two decades, it is not yet free from poverty. It can use every rupee it earns to fight its own poverty and yet India has chosen to share its resources with Africa. This is proof, if any proof is needed, that India’s support for Africa is not a matter of the philanthropy of the rich, but an expression of deep human solidarity between friendly peoples. This is unique in the annals of development cooperation.

True to its fundamental national philosophy, India has never attempted to impose itself on Africa or lecture to it. All assistance provided by India is based on respect for Africa and its own independent choices. This, too, is a reflection of the depth of the spirit of solidarity between India and Africa, and is unique in the annals of development cooperation.

Africa needs massive investment in infrastructure as infrastructural bottlenecks constitute a major problem of development in the continent. It needs to create an educated and skilled workforce. Last, but not least, it needs all the foreign direct investment it can get to develop its economy, particularly the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

India is very well placed to provide such assistance. Indian companies have gained experience in the field through the massive investment in infrastructure taking place in their own country. With support from the Indian government, these companies can contribute a lot to reduce the infrastructure gaps in Africa. India has always contributed to education and training in Africa, and this can be intensified further. Indian companies, many of which have long-standing ties with Africa and know how to operate in less than perfect investment environments, can redouble their investment in the continent. In short, India is very well placed to play an even greater role in the renewal and renaissance of our continent. That is why India matters to us Africans more than ever before.

Ethiopia has been a prime beneficiary and an important actor in India-Africa cooperation. The Indian government has provided us with over $700 million of soft loans for various projects in our country and a number of Indian companies are engaged in infrastructure projects throughout our country. Thousands of Ethiopians are being taught by Indian teachers both in India and here in Ethiopia. Billions of dollars worth of investment are being implemented by Indian companies in Ethiopia. That is why India matters more than ever before to us both as Africans and as Ethiopians.

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