Norwegian version of this page

India's Footprint in Africa: South-South Cooperation and the Politics of Gifts and Reciprocity (INDAF)

Africa is attracting renewed global interest and rivalry among major world powers and external actors. This project examines India’s global ambitions and recent foreign policy re-engagement with countries on the continent.

Modi greets President Kagame

Photo: Prime Minister Modi is welcomed by President Kagame during a state visit to Rwanda in 2018 | by Paul Kagame, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

About the project

Short name: INDAF

Duration: 2020 - 2023

Africa is now attracting renewed global interest and rivalry among major world powers. Indeed, some even claim that there is a "new scramble for Africa" involving major Western powers and new and emerging powers such as China and India who are all vying for the continent's attention. An important channel of Indian engagement with African countries has been through the mechanisms of South-South Cooperation (SSC), which allows India to showcase its ability to develop Triple-A technology (affordable, available, adaptable), and contrast these to Western models. In particular, health and education through ICT have enabled India to distinguish its SSC activities from China.

While most studies of India in Africa concentrate on official lines of credit, major infrastructure projects, and the cultural influence of Bollywood and yoga, the focus of this project is on the Pan African e-Network Project (PAEN), which combines India's competitive advantages of ICT, education and health expertise through a public-private partnership (PPP) model. A key aim of this project is to better understand how SSC activities shape perceptions and influence of India's influence in three (similar, yet different) country contexts of Senegal, Malawi and Mozambique.

The overarching goal is to examine the extent to which SSC activities shape Indian foreign policy and motivations for re-engagement with Africa. Another goal is to better understand how African countries can use this growing interest from India to their advantage. A study of the PAEN project will generate new knowledge on how African countries perceive India's efforts to deliver knowledge and capacity building in SSC, and what African policymakers believe that India expects in return.


The project aims to better understand new dynamics in global governance by studying how states and societal groups build trust and undertake international and inter-cultural cooperation. Our primary objectives are to:

  • Develop new knowledge on India´s foreign policy and discern how India and its African partners discursively assert, enact and reciprocate the symbolic regime of SSC;
  • Better understand the modalities and impact of India´s soft power strategy on education and health through the PAEN project, and African perspectives on the efficacy of these initiatives;
  • Contribute to international policy debates on the role and impact of the private sector and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model in promoting sustainable development.

Secondary objectives:

  • Interact with national and international policymakers;
  • Stimulate innovative and interdisciplinary methodological approaches;
  • Strengthen cooperation between Norwegian, Indian and African academic institutions and researchers;
  • Publish widely in international peer-reviewed journals and disseminate findings to a wider public;
  • Further develop and consolidate our international networks


Applying the concept of “soft power” and gift-theory, this study aims to better understand how India, with the help of its private sector, strategically performs its own version of South-South Cooperation (SSC). By studying its flagship telecommunications-based Pan African e-Network (PAEN) project, which provides education and health assistance to African countries, we will examine the motivations, goals, achievements and expectations from both Indian and African perspectives.

Thus, we seek to answer to what extent the power of SSC gifts, and the historical legacies that underpin them, shape Indian foreign policy and motivations for re-engagement with Africa. How do the Indian public and private sector actors project the idea of benevolence, mutual benefit, moral motivation and “care” for Africa through ICT and health services in the PAEN project? And how do African countries perceive India’s efforts to deliver knowledge and capacity building in SSC, and what do African policymakers believe that India expects in return?


UTENRIKS/INDNOR Programme, The Research Council of Norway.


News and media

Tags: India, Mozambique, Senegal, Malawi, South-South cooperation, Aid
Published Aug. 21, 2020 10:53 AM - Last modified Nov. 6, 2020 4:51 PM