The recent takeover by Indian firm Essar Africa Holdings of Zimbabwe's state-owned iron and steel company, Ziscosteel, is a prime example of India's efforts to ramp up its economic involvement in Africa. In an email interview, Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, national director of the South African Institute for International Affairs, discussed India's economic relations with Africa.
WPR: What is the current state of Indian investment and development aid in Africa?
Elizabeth Sidiropoulos: Indian companies have been operating in Africa for many years, although more recently there has been a substantial increase in investment -- from $556 million in 1997 to some $18 billion in 2007-2008. In contrast to Chinese investment in Africa, Indian commercial engagement is largely driven by the private sector, although, in the energy sector, state-owned ONGC Videsh has been quite active. Indian companies have also tended to be more price-sensitive, not displaying the deep pockets of Chinese state-owned enterprises when it comes to energy deals.