India and Africa renewed their relations at a massive gathering of leaders in New Delhi yesterday, where Prime Minister Shri Nerandra Modi announced his country’s decision to raise the level of support to Africa with a concessional credit of $10 billion over the next five years.
At the opening of the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit at the Indira Ghandi Sports Complex, Mr Modi said the new credit facility was in addition to the ongoing credit programme.
Besides, India pledged a grant of US$600 million, which would include an India-Africa Development Fund of US$100 million and an India-Africa Health Fund of US$10 million over the same period.
Other assistance to Africa include 50,000 scholarships in India over the next five years, while supporting the expansion of the Pan African E-Network and institutions.
Mr Modi told the impressive gathering that his country had since the first India-Africa Summit in 2008, committed $7.4 billion in concessional credit and $1.2 billion in grants to Africa.
He stated that in the last three years, nearly 25,000 young Africans had been trained and educated in India.
The India Africa Forum Summit is the biggest foreign policy meeting hosted by India in the last three decades.
This year’s event attracted a record participation of all 54 African nations with 41 of them represented by their heads of state, including President John Dramani Mahama.
It would address major challenges affecting both India and Africa with particular reference to security, human resource development, institution building, infrastructure development, energy sufficiency, technological development, health, education and skills development.
India’s growth as an emerging economy has been phenomenal, and it sees Africa’s development as one that the country can hardly ignore.
India, a country with a 1.25 billion population, is currently Africa’s largest fourth biggest trading partner but raw materials constitutes about 80 per cent of exports from Africa.
Systematically walking the audience through India-Africa relations, Mr Modi said his copuntry was honoured to be a development partner of Africa.
“It is a partnership beyond strategic concerns and economic benefits. It is formed from the emotional bonds we share and the solidarity we feel for each other,” he said.
The Prime Minister stated that in less than a decade, trade between the two sides had more than doubled to over $70 billion making India a major source of business investments in Africa.
Touting Africa as a proud continent, the Prime Minister said if today the fabric of this world was richer, it was due to the 54 sovereign nations of Africa.
He mentioned the continent’s ancient achievements and added that its modern strides were catching the attention of the world.
“The continent is more settled and stable. African nations are coming together to take responsibility for their development, peace and security,” Mr Modi added.
The Prime Minister, however, conceded that there had been occasions when India had not performed as expected.
“There have been occasions when we have not been as attentive as we should be. There are commitments we have not fulfilled as quickly as we should have,” Mr Modi added.
In spite of that, he was appreciative that Africa continued to embrace India as a true partner without any complaints, adding “You have rejoiced in our success and taken pride in our achievements, and, you have stood for us in the world.”
Based on the trust and confidence Africa continued to have in his country, Mr Modi promised that India would continue to raise the level of its support for the continent.
He said India would make sure its expertise in technology would have a positive impact in various development sectors of Africa, stressing that “Technology will be a strong foundation of our partnership.”
When he took his turn to address the opening ceremony, Zimbabwean President Mr Robert Mugabe, who is also the Chairman of the Africa Union, commended India for being a true partner of Africa.
But, he played it hard on the so-called advanced countries who he said continued to take Africa for granted.
At a glance
India Prime Minister Shri Nerandra Modi, yesterday announced a $10 billion support for Africa over the next five years, at a ceremony in New Delhi where India and Africa renewed their bonds.
Story: Kwame Asare Boadu