Keen to step up Indian presence in Africa, the Union government has convened a meeting with at least 40 ministries and departments on Friday to discuss how to go about it. This is the first follow-up meeting after Manmohan Singh’s maiden visit to Africa as Prime Minister, where he announced a slew of schemes, terming the continent the new growth pole of the world.
He had offered a $5-billion line of credit (LOC) for the next three years, an additional $700 million to establish new institutions and training programmes and $300 mn to support development of a new Ethiopia-Djibouti rail line. He made the promises at the second Africa-India Forum Summit last month, in Addis Ababa.
Friday’s meeting will be chaired by Gurjeet Singh, additional secretary (east and Africa) in the ministry of external affairs. Commerce and industry, railways, defence, textiles, food and agriculture are among the key ministries which will be present. The government wishes to consolidate New Delhi’s presence amidst stiff international competition in Africa, mainly through activities in these sectors.
According to a top railway ministry official, “We will be presenting how Indian Railways is planning to do business in Africa.”
The railway ministry is now concentrating on giving consultancy and making project reports in around 10 countries in Africa.
“We have been given Rs 170 crore grant-in-aid to assist African projects. We will be spending this money in the next three years in Africa,” he said.
India is taking up new rail projects in Madagascar, Senegal, Benin, Botswana and Congo.
Apart from the railways, the meeting is likely to discuss setting up 21 institutions for capacity building in Africa, some for each of the regions.