India and Africa: Towards a Sustainable Energy Partnership

Image: Flickr, Daniel Incandela
Image: Flickr, Daniel Incandela

The depletion of hydrocarbon resources, due to unprecedented growth in energy demand from developing countries, concerns over the disruption of energy supplies arising from political instability in the Middle East and the emergence of energy ‘nationalism’ in some oil-producing states, has resulted in major and emerging economies shifting their focus to finding alternative energy sources.

To a large extent, Africa has emerged as a reliable and alternative supply source, particularly for oil and natural gas. However, this has resulted in a ‘scramble’ by various countries to gain access to the continent’s vast energy and mineral resources. Unfortunately the focus is on resource extraction instead of resource generation, which has created a number of problems for Africa’s people by turning what should have been an asset into a curse. More importantly, the resulting imbalance in the development of the continent’s economy and growth could perpetuate Africa’s status as an energy-poor continent. Under these circumstances, can Africa emerge as an effective and sustainable energy source that will contribute to the stability of the world energy market? Conversely, can the continent’s energy (and mineral) resources become an instrument for its economic development and provide the wherewithal for a better standard of living for its people? And finally, can India, through its long-standing, traditional ties and large diaspora, successfully build partnerships with African states that will be different from those of other countries exploiting the continent’s resource wealth? This article looks at the evolving energy-based relationship between Africa and India and makes some recommendations on how India should embed its policy and energy ties in Africa in a developmental framework.

22 Feb 2011

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Research by
SAIIA Occasional Paper No 75, February 2011
Asia Pacific
SAIIA Programme
Foreign Policy
Energy, Natural Gas, Oil
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