INDIA: Engaging Africa With Software and Soft Power

Linked on our blogs with Global Geopolitics and Political Economy.

Published on  Global Geopolitics and Political Economy, by Ranjit Devraj (with additional reporting by Wambi Michael in Uganda), March 20, 2011.

NEW DELHI, Mar 18, 2011 (IPS) – India cannot match China’s massive investments in Africa, but it is using its information technology capabilities and its affordable university courses to stay relevant on the continent.

“How do you matter to Africa? India cannot obviously compete with either China or the United States, but it was this country which inspired the anti- colonial struggles of the last century and took a stand against apartheid,” says Ajay Kumar Dubey of the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s department for Africa studies. 

Dubey points to the Pan-African e-Network project as a classic example of what India has been doing to win friends in Africa and to also get a share of the continent’s markets and resources for its own expanding economy at home.

Besides providing tele-medicine and tele-education services the Pan-African e-Network facilitates easy video-conferencing among African heads of states across 33 nodes.

The Pan-African e-Network is “the finest example of partnership between India and Africa,” said Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna when he inaugurated the second phase of the 125 million dollar project in August 2010 from the New Delhi studios of the government-owned Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd. TCIL … //

… The current objective of the project, Kapoor said, is to assist Africa in building capacity by imparting quality education to 10,000 students across the continent over a five-year period.

Apart from the Pan-African e-Network, India has extended assistance to several African nations by way of training of experts and implementation of projects.

Over 1,000 officials from sub-Saharan Africa receive training annually under the Indian Technical and Education (ITEC) programme and about 15,000 African students are currently enrolled in different academic programmes in India – many of them self-financed.

There are plans in the works to establish a series of India-Africa institutes each specialising in specific areas – foreign trade, education, administration, diamonds, and human settlements – as part of future capacity building. (full text).

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