While Xi is also visiting Senegal and Mauritius, Modi will be in Uganda following his trip to Rwanda, an economy that grew 6.1 per cent last year

NEW DELHI: Visits by top Indian and Chinese visiting Africa this week will overlap including trips to common destinations -- South Africa for BRICS Summit and bilateral trips to Rwanda. This is a rare occasion as both Beijing and Delhi seek to expand their footprints in the resource-rich continent with some of the fastest growing economies.

Both PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will seek to expand economic and military ties with Africa during their ongoing visits. While Xi is also visiting Senegal and Mauritius, Modi will be in Uganda following his trip to Rwanda, an economy that grew 6.1 per cent last year.

India, which concluded a strategic partnership with Rwanda a few years ago, concluded a defence pact during Modi’s trip on Monday. Officials explained that India has long-standing defence ties with some of the African countries where leaders, including from Nigeria, are alumni of military colleges in India.

Island nations of Africa – Mauritius and Seychelles – have long-standing defence ties with India since their independence and Seychelles and India re-ignited work on a joint project in Assumption Island during President Danny Faure’s recent trip here.

Meanwhile, China had recently organised a defence forum with African nations. China is already Africa’s largest trading partner and opened its first military base on the continent last year in Djibouti, which this month launched a China-backed free trade zone it calls the largest in Africa. While in Senegal, which had a growth rate 7.2 per cent last year, China is seeking entry to the Atlantic Ocean. India would seek entry into the Atlantic Ocean through Equatorial Guinea. India also has long standing ties with Senegal in West Africa.

However, while the Chinese model resulting in high debts is facing a push back in parts of Africa, the Indian approach is seen as benign with a support program that is a mix of grants and loans offered at nominal interest rates. Two Lines of Credit was extended to Rwanda and one LoC will be extended to Uganda durinf the PM visits with total amount of $ 364 million. Key highlight will be Indian PM’s address to the Ugandan Parliament -- an element missing from Xi’s itinerary.

The Chinese government, banks and contractors loaned more than $94 billion to African governments and state-owned companies from 2000 to 2015, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University. While India's total Line of Credit to Africa amounts much less than the Chinese figure, those loans have been offered at a nominal interest rate with no record of debt or backlash.

Indo-African ties received a new boost after the third edition of their Summit here in 2015 attended by 40 heads of state and government from the continent. Ever since, India has undertaken various projects including initiative to construct conference centres across Africa as lasting symbols -- an area where China had developed expertise.

Over the past three years Indian presidents and vice presidents have frequented Africa with President Ram Nath Kovind making all his first three foreign trips to the continent. Similarly, India has hosted leaders from across the length and breadth of the continent. Several capacity building projects have been launched for African nations based on India’s strength. Delhi’s underlying message has been that it has been a non-interfering partner and the one which funds development projects based on local requirements and sentiments.

While Modi and Xi attempt to ramp up respective bilateral agenda in the continent, they will meet on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg later this week, the Chinese foreign ministry said in Beijing last Friday.

"They will exchange views on the international landscape, BRICS cooperation and other issues of mutual interest. As for US trade protectionism and unilateralism, it has aroused wide concerns from the international community. China and India uphold multilateralism and free trade and the open world economy. They hold consensus and common interests in this aspect. I think the leaders will exchange views on the issue of common interests including this issue. This is also the consensus of the BRICS countries," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said in South Africa. This will be the third meeting between the two leaders this year beginning with Wuhan informal summit in April and meeting on the sidelines of SCO Summit in June.