P172 – Asians in Africa – Policy versus Reality
8 July, 17:30-19:00

Dubey Ajay / Jawaharlal Nehru University
Thubauville Sophia / Goethe-Universität Frankfurt


Ever since the first trade relations between Asia and Africa in ancient times, Asians have travelled to and lived on the African continent. Trade has been not only the oldest but also until today the most prominent reason for Asians to engage with Africa. The kind and size of businesses Asians run in Africa are as diverse as one can imagine from large-scale investment to illegal mining. Apart from trade, Asians are active in the construction of infrastructure, as teachers, as aid workers and in many more sectors in African countries. Whereas some groups have been on the African continent since long and today constitute stable diasporas, others have been discovering African countries as a possibility for their ventures or as a new home only recently. The panel wants to continue the discussions of several panels on Africa-Asia relations that took part at the last ECAS conference. Unlike the last panels, which dealt with interactions on a meta-level, we seek to concentrate on empirical, theoretical and policy level studies which give insight into Africa-Asia relations on an individual level and often constitute a stark contrast to governmental ideas and declarations.

Les Asiatiques en Afrique : la politique contre la réalité

Depuis la première relation commerciale entre l’Asie et l’Afrique dans l’Antiquité, jamais tant d’Asiatiques ont voyagé et vécu dans le continent africain. Le commerce international a été non seulement la plus ancienne mais aussi, jusqu’à aujourd’hui, la principale raison des Asiatiques de s’engager en Afrique. Les affaires gérées par les Asiatiques sont de natures et de tailles tellement diverses qu’elles peuvent aller du grand investissement minier à la petite exploitation illégale. Au-delà du commerce, les Asiatiques sont aussi présents dans la construction d’infrastructure, et incluent des enseignants et des personnels de l’aide internationale ou dans bien d’autres secteurs. Alors que des groupes d’Asiatiques sont présents sur le continent africain depuis très longtemps, et constituent aujourd’hui des diasporas stables, d’autres ont plus récemment découvert l’Afrique comme nouvelle terre d’opportunité d’affaires ou d’immigration. Ce panel a pour objet de continuer des discussions menées sur la relation Asie-Afrique à la dernière Conférence européenne d’études asiatiques. Cependant, à la différence de ses panels qui y ont traité d’interactions au niveau des acteurs institutionnels, nous nous intéressons ici aux études empirique, théorique et de politique publique permettant d’analyser la relation Asie-Afrique au niveau individuel, qui témoigne souvent d’un contraste frappant avec les idées et déclarations gouvernementales.


Paper 1

Harris David / University of Bradford

Perceptions of ‘Development’ in Contemporary Indian-Ghanaian Relations

Recent large increases in Indian ‘development assistance’ to Africa have mostly failed to excite media or academic attention, especially in comparison to the attention lavished on China and the West. Following the authors’ field work in Delhi and Accra, questioning relevant state and non-state elite actors as to their perceptions of Indian development activities in Africa generally and in Ghana in particular, the paper seeks to show the two sets of opinion. Ghana is chosen as it is a key recipient of Indian ‘development assistance’ and a major country in Africa. Research indicates that opinion in India is divided as to whether Nehru’s South-South principles persist or if India is now looking after its own economic and strategic interests, using ‘development assistance’ as a smoke screen for these interests. The new Modi government may also be throwing up new shifts in thinking. The reciprocal research looks at Ghanaian elite-level opinion on India – whether viewed a
s extractors, Nehruvian ideologues, or simply another source of funds. Ghana is also in flux as it has in recent years become a significant oil exporter. By taking the interpretations and stated intentions of key interlocutors seriously, it is possible to move away from a purely interests-based analysis of Indian-African relations, which seems to predominate, and present a more nuanced topography of the developmental, and indeed wider, concerns within India and Africa.

Paper 2

Tutzer Mirjam / Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main

The ‘global’ in the Transregional Concept of Microfinance in Tanzania and Bangladesh

The concept of microfinance as development strategy is perceived to be a ‘magic bullet’ for women’s empowerment despite strong critique on the practice following for example the suicide-waves in India, reports of the over indebtedness of many clients, brutal methods of microfinance institutions to retrieve debts by clients and the disclosure of the neoliberal inflections in the perceived emancipatory concept by critical scientists and activists.
My paper examines the roots and conditions under which the concept can be framed as ‘empowering’ using the examples Bangladesh, perceived to be the birthplace of microfinance, and Tanzania. I will look at the local realities, discourses and structures from a feminist post-colonial lens: an idea and concept such as microfinance cannot be considered as purely stemming from the global South as it is tightly enmeshed and influenced by global structures of power, discourses and hierarchies.
Such a conceptualization shows possibilities and impossibilities of examining relations between Asia and Africa on its own terms: I reason that global discourses and structures must be continuously reflected while paying close attention to the ruptures, negotiation and adaptation of the same in local contexts. The concept of microfinance encounters different realities and alterations which show the agency of actors and on the other hand the epistemic power of discourses across regions.

Paper 3

Shrestha Manoj Lal / Konan University

Japanese Investment and Technology Transfer in Africa

This presentation aims to portray the increasing Japanese foreign direct investment and technology transfer in Africa as the one of the World’s fastest-growing region. Recent transformation of Africa specially the economic diversification policy, improvement of the regulations, emergence of non-commodity industries and sensible fiscal policies have been well received by Japanese Government and the private sectors. It is least known but an illustrious point to note that since last two decades Japan has been involved in Africa’s development actively creating Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) exchanging knowledge with the policy makers on the best possible way to uplift the livelihood of the people of Africa. At the Fifth TICAD meeting in Yokohama in May 2014, Japan pledges African leaders $32 billion in public and private support to aid to boost investment for the economic
growth of Africa.
In the presentation, the case studies of the Japanese corporations involved in Africa in light Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) related business development will be reflected showing Japan’s will and skill to uplift African socio-economic development.

Paper 4

Yamamoto Yumiko / Center for International Study and Research of Sciences Po Paris

Japanese and Indian Companies going to West Africa: Comparative Perspective in Destination, Targeted Domain and Motivation

Predominantly francophone and composed by 16 countries, West Africa is observing the increasing activities of Asian companies, supported by respective national interests to its rich natural resources (diamond, gold, phosphate, liquefied natural gas, oil, aquatic resources). In this region, Japanese companies’ business emerged in 1989, while Indian companies arrived from 2000. Why do Japanese and Indian companies go to West Africa? Who are these companies? On which countries do they focus on and why? Based on quantitative data analysis and a semi-directed interview technique, this paper investigates what attracts Japanese and Indian companies’ in doing business in West Africa, examining on 4 parameters (dominating companies, targeted domains, destination, motivation and perspective for West Africa). This paper argues that Mitsubishi, Kanematsu (trading firms) and Todakensetsu (construction) of Japan and Rites (construction), Sonalika and Escorts (manufactures of agriculture
equipments) and Tata motors (car manufacture) of India are the dominating companies. It assesses that, while Japanese companies are reluctant to get involved in projects other than Japanese ODA, Indian companies use aid projects as an entrance to commercialise their products and services in local market. The paper is developed from the author’s book Politique d’aide au développement de la Chine, de l’Inde et du Japon en Afrique de l’Ouest (Les Indes savants, forthcoming).

Paper 5

Mason Robert / British University in Egypt

China’s Africa Policy in Retrospect: Options for Future Engagement

This paper analyses the broad Chinese interest in the African continent, including its importation of African oil, copper, bauxite, uranium, aluminium, manganese and other natural resources. It then goes on to examine specific commercial relations between China and African states such as Angola (a leading oil exporter), Zimbabwe (with an anti-western orientation), and South Africa (a regional power, fellow BRICS member and economic hub). By comparing these diverse bilateral relationships, a number of research questions will be addressed, including: the extent to which resource competition between traditional and non-traditional state actors in the ‘new scramble for Africa’ have enabled some African states to pursue polygamy in their international relations for greater relative autonomy. It also aims to discover whether conditional aid programmes should be pursued in this more competitive environment or whether unconditional aid programmes provided by states such as China are necessar
y for sustaining engagement. Finally, it aims to establish whether persistent challenges such as human rights and unconventional threats such as HIV/Aids and new epidemics such as Ebola are causing China to re-evaluate its Africa policy beyond ‘oil diplomacy’ and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.

← Back to list