india africa engagement how congo and somaliland are crucial

India-Africa engagement: How Congo and Somaliland are crucial

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Damodardas Modi, has been visiting African countries in recent years, highlighting the growth in India-Africa engagement.

Narendra Modi’s third trip to South Africa was concluded with hope for the further enhancement of relations between India and Africa. The Indian community in South Africa treated Modi with respect. 

India’s economy has been booming, while China has been facing demographic collapse. Recently, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) summit was concluded. The leaders from Brazil, India, China and South Africa met to discuss various issues of mutual concern.

Modi’s visit to Africa

In 2016, Indian Prime Minister Modi visited South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya. In 2018, he visited Rwanda and Uganda. This year, Modi attended the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and capital of Gauteng province.

Modi has long understood the importance of Africa. He also suggested including the African Union (AU), a continental union consisting of 55 member states in Africa, in the G20 (Group of 20).

Importance of the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country in Central Africa and the second-largest country in Africa by land area, had its first peaceful transfer of power in 2019. Félix Tshisekedi became president in January 2019, paving the way for Congo’s growth.

According to economists, Congo’s natural resources can be around US$ 24 trillion. Congo has gold, diamonds, uranium, cobalt and germanium, which are important for lithium batteries, necessary for computers and electric cars.

Earlier this year, Congo wanted to reach an agreement on overhauling $6 billion of an infrastructure-for-minerals deal with the People’s Republic of China. The government of Congo was in talks with representatives of Sicomines, a cobalt and copper joint venture with Chinese state-owned firms, to finalize the deal. However, Congo was unhappy with China’s investment in the industry and did not agree to renegotiate. Indian firms would have taken advantage of the situation to push China out of a strategic market. However, India was absent and no Indian officials visited Congo in years. But China understood the importance of Congo. Chinese President Xi Jinping met his counterpart from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, in May.

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Importance of Somaliland

India has also been absent in Somaliland, an unrecognized state in the Horn of Africa. Around 35 countries—including the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council— recognized Somaliland in 1960. 

Despite being an unrecognized state, Somaliland is business friendly and stable. The country is also home to Coca Cola’s second-largest bottling plant in Africa. 

Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991, is well-known for business opportunities. Caafisom,the first Healthcare App in Somaliland, secured $110000 funding. The company from Somaliland completed a $110,000 seed investment round led by the US-based venture capital fund Tofino Capital. Indian firms could have used this situation to boost relations with Somaliland.