To strengthen ties with African countries and counter the growing influence of China in that region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday announced a concessional credit grant of $10 billion to Africa through the next five years.
“To add strength to our partnership, India will offer concessional credit of $10 billion over the next five years. This will be in addition to our ongoing credit programme,” Modi said at the inaugural ceremony of the third India-Africa Forum Summit here.
“We will also offer a grant assistance of $600 million. This will include an India-Africa development fund of $100 million and an India-Africa health fund of $10 million. It will also include 50,000 scholarships in India through the next five years. And, it will support the expansion of the pan-Africa e-network and institutions of skilling, training and learning across Africa,” the PM added.
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Since the first India-Africa Summit in 2008, India has committed $7.4 billion in concessional credit and $1.2 billion in grants. India was also creating 100 capacity-building institutions and developing infrastructure, public transport, clean energy, irrigation, agriculture and manufacturing capacity across Africa, Modi said.
Without mentioning the increasing Chinese presence in the African continent, the PM said in an address to about 50 African leaders, “There are times when we have not done as well as you have wanted us to. There have been occasions when we have not been as attentive as we should have. There are commitments we have not fulfilled as quickly as we should have … And, as we travel on the road ahead, we will do so with the wisdom of our experience and the benefit of your guidance.”
“As we look to the future, there is something precious that unites us -— our youth. Two thirds of India and two thirds of Africa is under the age of 35. And, if the future belongs to the youth, this century is ours to shape and build,” Modi said.
The African continent was now more “settled and stable” and African nations were together putting up a joint effort to ensure development, peace and security of the region, he said, lauding efforts in the field of innovation, especially in mobile banking, health care, agriculture and digital technology, in Africa.
Modi said 400,000 new businesses were registered in Africa in 2013 and mobile telephone services now reached 95 per cent of the population in many places. “The mobile banking of M-Pesa, the health care innovation of MedAfrica, or the agriculture innovations of AgriManagr and Kilimo Salama are using mobile and digital technology to transform lives in Africa.
“Now, India is a major source of business investments in Africa. Today, 34 African countries enjoy duty-free access to the Indian market,” he said, adding African energy helped run the Indian economy; its resources were powering Indian industries; and African prosperity offered a growing market for Indian products.
“We are each making enormous efforts with our modest resources to combat climate change. For India, 175 Gw of additional renewable energy capacity by 2022 and reduction in emission intensity by 33-35 per cent by 2030 are just two aspects of our efforts,” the PM said.
He stressed currently, the institutions of global governance weren’t adequately represented. “This is a world of free nations and awakened aspirations. Our institutions cannot be representative of our world if they do not give voice to Africa, with more than a quarter of UN members, or the world’s largest democracy, with one-sixth of humanity. That is why India and Africa must speak in one voice for reforms of the United Nations, including its Security Council,” Modi said. He also committed to raise increasing India’s support in integrating and connecting all parts of Africa. “We will help connect Africa from Cairo to Cape Town, from Marakesh to Mombassa; help develop your infrastructure, power and irrigation; help add value to your resources in Africa; and, set up industrial and information technology parks. “We will also deepen India-Africa partnership on clean energy, sustainable habitats, public transport and climate resilient agriculture.”
The PM invited Africa to join an alliance of solar-rich countries which, he said, he would propose at the climate change meeting in Paris in December.
On the Doha round of global trade talks under the World Trade Organization (WTO), Modi urged Africa to join India in its fight against the closure of the round, which is based on a development agenda for the third world.