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India’s contemporary relationships with countries in Africa are being reimagined at a time when China’s multi-dimensional engagement with the region has deepened significantly. There is a need to examine these developments from diverse, cross-sectoral perspectives and go beyond the linear narratives. This panel discussion will span from markets to geopolitics, synthesizing them within the comparative India-China framework. Speakers on the panel will draw from their rich experience of advising African governments, Chinese and African investors to provide specific takeaways on African market dynamics and possible socio-political and economic futures of value to Indian policymakers, businesses, and researchers. Additionally, they will contrast the engagement of both Asian countries in Africa, discussing the strategic, technological, and cultural drivers, highlighting the strengths and fault lines in the relationships. The panelists will also explore India’s evolving place in the foreign policy formulations of African countries and look at the expanse of the emerging opportunities for building sustainable partnerships. 


W. Gyude Moore, Senior Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development; Lecturer, University of Chicago’s Harris School for Public Policy; Former Minister of Public Works, Liberia

Hannah Ryder, CEO, Development Reimagined; Senior Associate, Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies

Anthea Mulakala, Senior Director for International Development Cooperation, The Asia Foundation

Philani Mthembu, Executive Director, Institute for Global Dialogue

Veda Vaidyanathan, Associate, Harvard University Asia Center; Visiting Associate Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi

Sponsored by the Harvard University Asia Center; co-sponsored by the Center for African Studies, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, and Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University



W. Gyude Moore is a Senior Policy Fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD). He served as Liberia’s Minister of Public Works with oversight over the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure from December 2014 to January 2018. Before that role, Moore served as Deputy Chief of Staff to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Head of the President’s Delivery Unit (PDU). As Head of the PDU, his team monitored progress, drove delivery of Liberia’s Public Sector Investment Program, and shaped its post-Ebola outlook. At CGD, Mr. Moore’s policy analysis and research focus are governance, the financing of infrastructure, and Africa’s response to the changing landscape of external actors. His focus tracks the policies of traditional, aspiring, and emerging actors on the continent, especially the rise of China and its expanding role in Africa. Mr. Moore is a lecturer at the University of Chicago’s Harris School for Public Policy where he teaches a class on the role of infrastructure in the practice of foreign policy and international development.

Hannah Ryder is the CEO of Development Reimagined (DR). A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, is also a Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE’s International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Before her role at DR, Ms. Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006. At Development Reimagined, Ms. Ryder drives the overall company strategy for the China, Kenya, and UK offices, working with our clients, partners, and experts around the world to provide strategic advice and practical research and support.

Anthea Mulakala is the senior director for International Development Cooperation at The Asia Foundation. She is an accomplished development leader, manager, and policy specialist with more than 25 years of experience living and working in Asia. She has led and managed diverse teams, directly and remotely, to deliver high-impact programs in reproductive health, conflict prevention and peacebuilding, governance, and regional cooperation. Over the last decade, she has honed her expertise in Asian development cooperation, particularly in understanding how rising powers, such as China and India, are transforming the 21st-century aid and development landscape. In addition to developing and implementing programs, she also writes, publishes, and speaks extensively on these issues. Before the Asia Foundation, she worked for The World Bank, UK DFID, the City of Melbourne, and the South Asia Partnership. In 2015 she founded MakanLah!, a Malaysian social enterprise that addresses the crisis of childhood obesity and poor nutrition in Malaysia.

Philani Mthembu is the Executive Director at the Institute for Global Dialogue. Before joining the IGD, he pursued a joint doctoral program (Dr. rer. pol.) with the Graduate School of Global Politics, Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), and the School of International Studies at Renmin University, Beijing (China). The focus of his dissertation was on the rise of emerging powers as sources of development cooperation in Africa, for which he was awarded Magna Cum Laude. He co-founded the Berlin Forum on Global Politics (BFoGP), a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of academic, expert, and public understanding of global politics. His recent publications include a single-authored book titled China and India’s Development Cooperation in Africa: The Rise of Southern Powers, and a co-edited book titled From MDGs to Sustainable Development Goals: The Travails of International Development.

Veda Vaidyanathan is a multi-disciplinary researcher who specializes in Asia-Africa interactions. As an Associate at the Harvard University Asia Center and a Visiting Associate Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies in New Delhi, she brings a comparative perspective to her work, often examining Chinese and Indian engagements in the continent. Research projects she designed and led have examined investments in financial services and mining in Zimbabwe, agriculture in Zambia, infrastructure development in Tanzania and Kenya, and pharmaceutical manufacturing in Ethiopia. While working on her Ph.D. at the University of Mumbai, she received the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi, and the Harvard-Yenching Institute Fellowship and spent a year at Peking University, China, and the Harvard-Yenching Institute. Her analysis and op-eds have been published in The Washington Post, The Hindu, The Diplomat, South African Journal of International Affairs, and findings presented in various global conferences and podcasts, including as part of the Indian delegation to the 17th Russia-India-China (RIC) academic trilateral in Beijing.