"India should take on Chinese investment blitzkrieg in Africa"
Panaji: India needs to pull up its socks in the race with China for investments in the resource-rich African continent, a former Ugandan diplomat said Tuesday. Speaking during a conference on 'Decolonization, Development and Diaspora: The Afro-Indian experience' organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and the Goa government, Kampala University Vice Chancellor Badru Kateregga said that Indian exports should target countries in east Africa that are flooded with poor quality Chinese goods.
"Uganda has attained substantial outcome from the several development co-operation projects undertaken under Indian initiatives, but more needs to be done in order to counteract the threat from the Chinese expansion model," Kateregga said.
China's exports to Africa are virtually triple vis-a-vis their Indian counterparts. While the Sino-African trade was pegged at nearly $130 billion in the financial year ending 2011, India lagged behind with a mere $46 billion.
According to Kateregga, a majority of Ugandan Indians tended to establish small businesses like supermarkets, shops and hardware shops, unlike the Chinese who invested in big projects.
"More investments in critical areas like agriculture, especially agricultural entrepreneurship in the context of small scale business, agro-based processing, social services, manufacturing industry, mining, oil and gas sectors should be explored from the Afro-Indian framework," he said.
"Furthermore, Indian goods should be exported to eastern Africa as opposed to the current trend where more of Chinese goods flood the African and Ugandan markets in particular," Kateregga said, adding that the Chinese goods were of poorer quality compared to Indian products like Tata, Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki vehicles, Indian agricultural tractors and impelments, information and communication technology (ICT) services and medical equipment.
He further said that Indian initiated projects should focus more on the fight against the current threat from China.
As for India-Uganda ties, he said the two countries "have so much in common with one crucial fact being their independence from colonialism", adding that this common colonial heritage could give India the upper hand over China, if it desired to exploit the advantage.