India and Africa's relation date back to the 1st century BC.
The only source that is testimony to this was Periplus Maris Erythraei that refers to trade relation between Kingdom of Aksum and Ancient India.
Helped by the monsoon winds, merchant straded cotton, glass beads and other goods in exchange for Gold and carved ivory. In fact, the influence of Indian Art on African Kingdom was quite significant.
The trade relations between the two nations strengthened in the medieval ages too due to the development of trade routes between the Mediterranean and Asia, through Arabia.
Presently, Indian firms are conducting numerous takeovers abroad and are venturing into Africa. For instance, Bharti Airtel took over Zain Africa for US$9 billion. Meanwhile, trade and business has increased since 2010. Indo-African trade volume reached US$ 53.3 billion in 2010-11 & US$ 62 billion in 2011-12. And this is expected to further go up in the near future. India has emerged as Africa's fourth largest trade partner behind China, EU & USA whilst Africa has emerged as India's sixth largest trading partner behind EU, China, UAE, USA and ASEAN. Indian companies have already invested more than US$ 34 billion in the resource-rich continent as of 2011 & further investments worth US$ 59.7 billion are in the pipeline.
Africa has proposed CII with 126 agricultural projects worth an investment of $4.74 billion, 177 infrastructure projects worth $34.19 billion, and 34 energy sector plans costing $20.74 billion (337 projects totalling US$ 59.7 billion).
The historical background too is similar as both of them were invaded by the British Empire. In fact, it is believed that Mumbai was already a center of ivory trade between East Africa and Britain. Moreover, both the countries share the history of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was in South Africa between 1893 and 1915, fighting for equality. This paved the way for political ties in the modern era too.
During the period of colonialism and liberation wars, political relations became even stronger. At the wake of the Cold War, many of the African nations joined the non-aligned movement that was steered by Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia and Yugoslavia.
In fact, during the period of decolonisation, India had a considerable ideological and political influence in Africa. However, that could not be expanded due to India's own political and financial instabilities. However, there were many 'downs' in the relations due to India's reluctance in providing military assistance to national liberation movements. In fact, India's role in East Africa we constrained because of the attitude of black African nationalists toward the Indian ethnic population.
In the modern times, there are about 40,000 Africans in India. But the relations have strained because of increasing hate crimes against the members of the African community.
narendra Nodi's visit to various nations in Africa is expected to strengthen the business and political ties between the country. Safety of Africans in India will also be the subject of discussion.