China cannot be “blamed” for its presence in resource-rich Africa, Mauritius Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth said, but hoped that a “better placed” India will soon overtake it in that continent.
His comments come close on the heels of the successful completion of India-Africa Forum Summit where Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for deeper ties with African nations, amidst growing concerns here of increasing Chinese strategic footprints in the region.
“We can’t blame China. Like any other country, China also wants to be present in Africa and it is a win-win situation (for China and Africa). India is in a far better place as Indians have been settling in many countries in Africa since almost a century.
“There is quite an important Indian population in Africa and there is already a close link between certain African countries and India. So India is in a far better situation,” Jugnauth told PTI in an interview.
Mauritius, which is seen as an investment gateway for Africa, also has dominant Indian-origin population. The Prime Minister, who was here to attend the third India- Africa Forum Summit, said, “I think PM Modi has taken very good initiatives as they (India) don’t want to lag behind and I am sure and I believe that soon India will overtake China in Africa.”
When asked whether he was making a comparison with China, the Mauritius Prime Minister said, “I won’t say that (it is a comparison).”
An island nation that has been a significant source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and portfolio investments coming into India, Mauritius has very strong ties with the country traditionally.
“Mauritius is more than an investment gateway to Africa. It is a natural bridge between Asia and Africa in view of the Mauritius appurtenance to Africa coupled with strong cultural ties with Asia,” Jugnauth said.
As part of efforts to strengthen ties with resource-rich Africa, India has announced a concessional credit of $10 billion for the next five years and a grant assistance of $600 million. However, commitments from China for Africa are much higher and some reports suggest it could reach $1 trillion by 2025.
According to a report from US-based think-tank Brookings, China provided $10 billion in financing to Africa in the form of “concessional loans” from 2009 to 2012. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first overseas trip to Africa in March 2013, he doubled this commitment to $20 billion from 2013 to 2015.
The Export-Import Bank of China further announced in November 2013 that China will provide Africa with $1 trillion by 2025 in financing, including direct investment, soft loans and commercial loans, the Brookings report added.
Eyeing to enhance its presence in Africa, India hosted 41 Heads of State and Government and hundreds of senior officials from 54 African countries at the Summit last week, where Prime Minister Modi assured them all possible assistance, including in strategic areas of defence, counter-terrorism, security, trade and infrastructure development.
Asked if the India-Africa summit changes the future of their ties, Jugnauth said, “Well definitely. It can’t be otherwise. It won’t do any harm. It is bound to boost and bring India closer to Africa. I think the motivation is good and I talked to a few African leaders and they expect a lot of good results arising from this great summit.”
According to the Delhi Declaration, Africa took note of India’s position and aspirations to become a permanent member with full rights in an expanded UN Security Council, calling for a decisive push in achieving “concrete outcomes” in reforming the top decision making body.