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Day 47 – Q 5. Has India’s soft power been instrumental in her engagement with the African Union? Analyse.

5. Has India’s soft power been instrumental in her engagement with the African Union? Analyse.  

क्या अफ्रीकी संघ के साथ भारत के सम्बन्ध में सॉफ्ट पावर का योगदान रहा है? विश्लेषण करें।


African Union is now being tipped as the global economic growth engine of the coming decades. Its vast natural wealth and favourable demographic profile are expected to turn the continent as a whole into a growth engine that is expected to run faster than any of the world’s current economic powerhouses, including China, Brazil and India.


India’s soft power in African Union:

  • Development partner- India has been focused on building alliances and differentiating India from China, which has made countries in Africa fall into a debt trap.
  • Role of private sector- India is engaging with its diaspora and private sector links to build development partnerships, where India has a comparative advantage in English-language training and research. Several companies like Airtel, Mahindra, Tata, Apollo hospitals etc. are increasing their presence on the continent.
  • Line of credit- India has committed about 150 credit lines worth $10 billion as development fund but with lower disbursement rates than China.
  • Military co-operation- India extended cooperation on training between Uganda’s military and the Indian Army
  • Anti-China sentiment- India is exploiting the anti China stance in several countries to build its economic ties like Sudan and Nigeria giving India a share in oil field which was controlled largely by China because they didn’t want China to have 100% share in oil field.
  • High level visits- Visits by President, Vice-President and Prime Minister to various African countries.
  • India-Africa forum summit, biggest foreign policy event hosted by India in more than three decades.
  • Social sector- Development of Pan Africa e-network, training to doctors and nurses, Solar Mamas etc have helped improve the social indicators in Africa.
  • People-to-people ties- Student exchange programs, increase in scholarships, medical tourism and research scholars have resulted in a vibrant democracy.
  • Asia Africa Growth Corridor in collaboration with Japan

The success of soft power initiatives can be seen in

  • Increased Maritime co-operation between Asia and Africa
  • Pro-India stance of several countries like Sudan and Nigeria
  • Support to India on global forums like in bid for permanent seat in UNSC
  • Improved people-to-people ties

Challenges that prevent the engagement:

  • India’s development partnerships are notorious for their low disbursement rates and slow delivery. Only 4% of Indian grants in 2017-18 were committed to Africa.
  • India’s new concessional financing scheme, which subsidises private Indian companies bidding on African infrastructure projects, shows no signs of functioning a year after its announcement.
  • Chinese money and muscle power outweighs India
  • Incidents of racial attacks on Africans jeopardizes the efforts India is making to improve relations.
  • Lack of a pan-African policy makes the efforts fragmented.


Sustaining the complex and multifaceted India-Africa relationship requires multiple and more frequent processes of engagement involving not only government-to-government interaction but also the private sector, state governments as well as civil society. Also, as India seeks to implement its new strategic partnership with Africa and the is need to convince countries that it cannot only commit but also deliver.

Best answer: Ankur

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