These days I’m working on a new case for class teaching. It’s about an Indian start-up in the telecom service sector. It’s one of these “born-global” companies that expand to other countries early in their life. Created in 2010, this start-up operates in seven countries other than India. Out of the seven, five are sub-Saharan African countries.
India’s presence in East Africa has a long tradition. Towards the end of the 19th Century a wave of Indian migration to Kenya took place. They went to help build the Kenya-Uganda railway. Many stayed there, and kept their ties and cultural traditions. Today, about 1 % of Kenya’s population has Indian origins. Despite being a minority, they are and feel fully Kenyan. And they play an important role in the country’s economy.
Today, India’s presence in Africa goes way beyond the descendants of those initial migrants. Some facts:
- India is the fifth-largest investor in Africa: only the US, France, Malaysia, and China are ahead of India;
- Angola, South Africa, and Nigeria are the main recipients of Indian investments: they are high-growth markets, rich in mineral reserves and/or crude oil;
- The current volume of bilateral trade is $70 billion: 20 times greater than in 2000.
How are Indian investments different from Chinese investments? According to Jake Flanagin writing for Quartz, an important difference is that most Indian investors are privately-owned companies, while State ownership is not rare in the case of Chinese companies. Indian firms acquire established businesses and hire locals, in contrast to Chinese companies that tend to establish their own operations and take their own labor with them.
Indian-African relations extend beyond the purely economic. They also have an impact on daily life. For instance, 25,000 African students have received scholarships to study in India since 2010. Also, India is becoming a destination of choice for medical treatments which are more affordable there than in Europe.
Were you aware of these Indian-African relations?