India offers Africa $10 billion soft loan

Thu 29 Oct 2015, 14:04:40

New Delhi: India today offered a concessional credit of USD 10 billion to Africa over the next five years and a grant assistance of USD 600 million even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for deeper ties in key areas of counter-terrorism, climate change and UN reforms.

Addressing the inaugural session of the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) describing it as a "meeting of dreams of the one-third humanity under one roof", Modi said the heart beat of 1.25 billion Indians and 1.25 billion Africans is in rhythm and the partnership was "beyond strategic concerns and economic benefits."

Admitting that there are times when India has not done as well as they have wanted and not fulfilled commitments as quickly as it should have, he said the country will raise the level of its support for the vision of a prosperous, integrated and united Africa that was a major partner for the world.

"To add strength to our partnership, India will offer concessional credit of USD 10 billion over the next five years. This will be in addition to our ongoing credit programme.

"We will also offer a grant assistance of USD 600 million. This will include an India-Africa Development Fund of USD 100 million and an India-Africa Health Fund of USD 10 million. It will also include 50,000 scholarships in India over the next five years," the Prime Minister announced.

Noting that India has committed USD 7.4 billion in concessional credit and 1.2 billion dollars in grant since the first India-Africa Summit in 2008, Modi said it is creating 100 capacity-building institutions, and developing infrastructure, public transport, clean energy, irrigation, agriculture and manufacturing capacity across Africa.

During his nearly half-an-hour speech at the session, which was attended by 41 Heads of State and Government and hundreds of senior officials from 54 African countries, Modi called for stronger ties in the strategic areas of counter- terrorism and climate change as well as on UN reforms.

Stressing the need for UN Security Council reforms, he noted that the world was 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. These institutions have served us well, but unless they adjust to the changing world, they risk becoming irrelevant. We cannot say what will replace them in an uncertain future...That is why India and Africa must speak in one voice for reforms of the United Nations, including its Security Council," Modi said.

Seeking greater counter-terrorism ties, the Prime Minister said today, in many parts of the world, the light of a bright future flickers in the storm of violence and instability.

"When terror snuffs out life on the streets and beaches, and in malls and schools of Africa, we feel your pain as our own. And, we see the links that unite us against this threat. We also see that when our oceans are no longer safe for trade, we all suffer together," he asserted.

Modi emphasised on deeper India-Africa partnership on clean energy and invited African nations to join an alliance of solar-rich nations that he proposes to announce in the upcoming climate talks in Paris.

Referring to the developed world, he said that the excess of a few cannot become the burden of many as he hoped for a comprehensive and concrete outcome based on established principles in the UN Convention on Climate Change.

Africa and India, Modi said, are "two bright spots of hope and opportunities in the global economy".

He said that in less than a decade, India-Africa trade has more than doubled to over 70 billion USD and India is now a major source of business investments in Africa and 34 African countries enjoy duty free access to the Indian market.

India and Africa also seek a global trading regime that serves their development goals and improves trade prospects, he said, adding that at the Nairobi Ministerial of the WTO in December, "we must ensure that the Doha Development Agenda of 2001 is not closed without achieving these fundamental objectives".

He said India will help develop infrastructure, power, irrigation, agriculture and resources in Africa and, set up industrial and information technology parks.

Offering India's expertise in healthcare and affordable medicines, Modi said the two sides can also collaborate to develop Indian and African treasures of traditional knowledge and medicines.

"We will make available our space assets and technology," Modi said while also promising to work to reduce digital divide within Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world.

"We will expand and extend the Pan Africa E-Network, conceived by late President APJ Abdul Kalam, which links 48 African countries to India and to each other. This will also help set up your Pan Africa Virtual University," he said.

Modi said that India and Africa will cooperate for sustainable development of Blue Economy that will become important future driver of their prosperity.

"For me, Blue Economy is part of a larger Blue Revolution to reclaim our blue skies and blue waters, as we move on the path of clean development," he said.

In his address, the Prime Minister said that 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 be. There are commitments we have not fulfilled as quickly as we should have."

Africa, he said, has always embraced India with warmth, and without judgement. "You have rejoiced in our success, and taken pride in our achievements. And, you have stood for us in the world. This is the strength of our partnership and our friendship," he said.
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