India has reached out to several African countries through a slew of demand-driven projects over the last one week even as President Ram Nath Kovind visited Zambia, Swaziland and Equatorial Guinea recently. The exercise is seen as a part of India’s counter to Chinese attempts to make inroads into Africa.
New Delhi has signed off two major infrastructure projects in Zambia. The first supports Zambia’s hospitality industry and conference tourism by setting up the Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre in Lusaka. The convention centre is likely to be used for the African Union meetings, to be hosted by Zambia in the near future. “There is a need, and there is a demand…so India filled in this demand,” a source told The Indian Express.
The second big project, the Lusaka City Roads Decongestion Project, will be implemented with support from India. Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has offered New Delhi a chance to take up a major railway project in the country.In Swaziland, too, India has stepped in with a project, which has impressed many, including the ruling establishment. President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated an Information Technology Centre located in the Royal Science & Technology Park (RSTP).
India has also announced that it would provide Swaziland a new credit-line of $10.4 million to help establish a ‘Disaster Recovery Site’ for the National Data Centre housed within the RSTP. Swaziland top leadership has also been “concerned” about the increased Chinese presence in the continent, and is reported to have conveyed the concerns to New Delhi as well.
In Equatorial Guinea, India is planning to set up an Entrepreneurship Development and Vocational Training Centre and an English Language Training Laboratory, as a strong symbol of India’s desire to contribute to capacity building and training.