From $10 bn soft loan to farm support: PM Modi lays out his Africa strategy

Much of India’s development priorities and Africa’s vision for its future are aligned, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday at the third India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi on Thursday, announcing a slew of measures to support the continent.

"India is honoured to be a development partner for 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.

He added that Africa and India are the two bright spots of hope and opportunities in the global economy, which is witnessing a downturn.

"We will open our doors more; we will expand tele-education; and we will continue to build institutions in Africa," he said.

Ever since the first such summit happened in 2008, India has given $7.4 billion in concessional credit to Africa, and also a $1.2 billion grant. More than this, India is building infrastructure on the continent. According to the prime minister, nearly 25,000 young Africans were trained and educated in India in the last three years alone.

 From  bn soft loan to farm support: PM Modi lays out his Africa strategy

PM Narendra Modi at the India-Africa Forum Summit on Thursday. Twitter @PIB_India

Here are the key takeaways from the speech:

Help for Africa's agriculture sector: India will help Africa in developing its agriculture sector, Modi promised. "Africa has 60 percent of the world's arable land reserves and just 10 percent of the global output. India will help to develop Africa's agriculture sector," he said.

He said a spurt in Africa's agriculture sector can drive the continent's march to prosperity and also support global food security.

Appreciating the measures taken by the African countries in the fields of healthcare, education and agriculture, Modi said: "We see strong measures that are radically improving healthcare, education and agriculture. Primary school enrolment in Africa now exceeds 90 percent."

Technology and innovation: Quoting Egyptian Nobel Prize-winning writer Naguib Mahfouz who said science brings people together with the light of its ideas, PM Modi said that technology will be a strong foundation of the partnership between India and Africa.

He said Africa has now joined the global mainstream of innovation. "The mobile banking of M-Pesa, the healthcare innovation of MedAfrica, or the agriculture innovation of AgriManagr and Kilimo Salama, are using mobile and digital technology to transform lives in Africa," Modi said.

$10 billion credit: In addition to the ongoing credit programme, PM Modi committed a $10 billion credit programme.

"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," said Modi.

Apart from this, Modi also pledged an assistance of $600 million to the continent, which includes 50,000 scholarships for African students in India, an India-Africa Development Fund of $100 million and an India-Africa Health Fund of $10 million. It will also support the expansion of the Pan Africa E-Network and institutions of skilling, training and learning across Africa, he said.

Combatting climate change: "No one can be more conscious of climate change than Indians and Africans," Modi declared calling for cooperation between the two to combat climate change.

Both Africa and India want to "light up lives of our people and power their future", but it should be done in such a manner that "snow on Kilimanjaro does not disappear, the glacier that feeds the River Ganga does not retreat," he said.

He, however, pointed out that excess of a few cannot become the burden of many, alluding to the differences between developing and developed nations on the issue. At the meet in Paris in December, India will do its part for it, but also wants to see "a genuine global public partnership that makes clean energy affordable; provides finance and technology to developing countries to access it; and the means to adapt to the impact of climate change".

Solar alliance: He invited the African nations to join an alliance of solar-rich countries that India has proposed to launch in Paris on 30 November at the time of COP-21 meeting.

"Our goal is to make solar energy an integral part of our life and reach it to the most unconnected villages and communities."

Together for a global trading regime: He said India and Africa should also seek a global trading regime that serves the development goals and improves the trade prospects of both the regions.

UNSC reforms: Lastly, Modi also exhorted India and Africa to speak in one voice for reforms in international institutions like the UN Security Council.

"The world is undergoing political, economic, technological and security transition on a scale and speed rarely seen in recent history. Yet, our global institutions reflect the circumstances of the century that we left behind, not the one we are in today," the prime minister said.

With inputs from IANS

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Updated Date: Oct 30, 2015 09:45:22 IST