Monday September 24, 2018
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India China rivalry shifts to Africa


By Harshmeet Singh

One can’t help but think of a possible ‘Chinese angle’ behind India’s offer of a $10 billion credit to the African nations. The reasons are plain and simple. Ever since the two Asian giants embarked on a crescendo of economic growth, the battle for monopoly over the resource-rich African continent has come out in the open. Apart from the vast proven reserves of oil and gas, the world’s second largest continent also boasts of enviable deposits of uranium, gold, silver, diamonds, copper and iron. Though China has denied any rivalry with India on the African issue, it would be naïve to believe that there isn’t more to it than what meets the eye.

With a continuously rising population and rapidly depleting natural resources, Africa’s relatively underutilized mineral wealth is a key attraction for many industrialized nations across the world. Though countries like USA and Japan have also tried to get a piece of the cake, China and India seem to be the front-runners in the race for becoming Africa’s closest partners in the coming years. In terms of numbers, China has the upper hand. With a $200 billion investment in different African nations, China has firmly placed itself as the foremost ‘well wisher’ of Africa. In comparison, according to WTO, in 2013, India’s investments in Africa touched $50 billion. Apart from the investments in infrastructure, China has also offered assistance to the African nations in the areas of education and training. The magnitude of such assistance far outnumbers India’s efforts.

The numbers in bilateral trade also highlight a similar story. The African-Chinese bilateral trade stands at $108 billion, as compared to the Indian African trade of $40 billion. But smartly enough, India isn’t trying to compete with China on the economic front. It has rather taken up the cause of capacity building and human resource development in the African nations, thereby fostering the people to people connect between India and Africa.

Over the past 5 years, more than 25,000 students from the African countries have been given higher education scholarships in India. Indian army also trains officers from many African nations, such as Lesotho. India is also offering its expertise in solar energy to countries like Mozambique, to help the country tackle its power woes. Underlining India’s strategy, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said, “The key area of interest is going to be the Indian investment in infrastructure. The government of India is giving a significant amount of resources for the development of infrastructure in the African continent. They have given us (Ethiopia) $700 million in concessional loans. India could have used this money for its own people. But this is indicative of the quality of special relations between India and Africa,” In many ways, the battle for Africa can be termed as a battle between China’s economic might and India’s soft diplomacy.

The African leaders, on their part, are basking in the new found limelight. With assistance flowing in from all sides, they are trying their best to keep both the Asian giants happy for as long as possible. This was reiterated by Katureebee Tayebwa, a member of the Ugandan High Commission in New Delhi, when he said that, “We [Africa] are happy that there is intense competition between India and China to gain African markets.”


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North Kivu and Ituri, Congo To Welcome More Than 80,000 Children in This New School Year

According to the latest World Health Organization estimates, there have been 116 cases of Ebola, including 77 deaths, in the DRC.

A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

Government authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo say 250 schools in North Kivu and Ituri provinces will open their doors to more than 82,500 children when the new school year begins Monday.

These areas are the epicenter of the latest Ebola epidemic in DRC. The Ebola virus is extremely contagious. It can spread quickly through direct contact with blood and other bodily fluids of infected people.

UNICEF says it is scaling up operations in the region to promote prevention measures. It says school principals and teachers will receive training on Ebola prevention and protection and on how to educate children on good hygiene practices to avoid the spread of the virus.

Congo, school
A World Health Organization (WHO) worker administers a vaccination during the launch of a campaign aimed at beating an outbreak of Ebola in Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 21, 2018. VOA

Spokesman Christophe Boulierac said UNICEF and its partners had reached more than 2 million people with Ebola prevention messages since the start of the outbreak on August 1.

“An increasing number of communities are now aware about Ebola and … they know better how to prevent its transmission,” Boulierac said. “The active involvement of concerned communities is key to stopping the spread of the disease. So, we are working closely with them to promote handwashing and good hygiene practices.”

According to the latest World Health Organization estimates, there have been 116 cases of Ebola, including 77 deaths, in the DRC. UNICEF said children make up an unusually high proportion of people affected by the disease. It noted that 24 percent of confirmed cases were in people under age 24.

Congo, school
A family sits outside in a neighborhood where three people died of Ebola in Mbandaka, Congo,

Also Read: Congo’s New Ebola Outbreak Is A Great Risk: WHO

Boulierac said more than 150 psychosocial workers had been trained to help comfort children infected with the disease in treatment centers. He said they also would support children who were discharged as free of Ebola but were at risk of stigmatization upon returning to their communities. (VOA)