Magazine article African Business

The Indians Are Coming, but Is Africa Interested? Indian Investors Are Keen to Do Business on the Continent, but Partnerships Have Not Always Been Easy and the Mood Is Often Downbeat

Magazine article African Business

The Indians Are Coming, but Is Africa Interested? Indian Investors Are Keen to Do Business on the Continent, but Partnerships Have Not Always Been Easy and the Mood Is Often Downbeat

Article excerpt

At the African Development Bank's (AfDB) annual meeting in Abidjan, the delegation from India's trade, diplomatic and business corps came prepared with a weighty investment pamphlet, documenting India's ties with the West African bloc, ECOWAS.

The glossy report was elaborately packaged, but Africa will be hoping India's approach goes beyond wrapping a familiar product in glitzy paper.

Despite being a member of the BRICS and a number of other emerging market groupings, the economic relationship between Africa and India has not sparked a great deal of optimism.

Nkosona Moyo, a former chief operating officer of the AfDB, said both sides need to learn from failures and forge a new kind of relationship based around integrated African markets.

"Both parties have failed on the intended agenda, they've failed to deliver," he said. "As we embark on trying to grow the cooperation between India and Africa, what can we learn from what I would call failed relationships?"

Anecdotal evidence offers a reason for the breakdown. Interrupting the panel for an impromptu presentation--slides and all--Indian businessman S. Kuppuswamy lectured the audience on what Africa can learn from India's public-private partnerships, summing up by concluding that the responsibility for failed projects lies with Africans.

That may well be true--and there was no shortage of talk in Abidjan about moving projects from conception to completion--but few would argue that development is a one-way street. …

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