India pledges millions in aid, low-cost loans for Africa
30 October 2015, 08:17
New Delhi - Indian Premier Narendra Modi on Thursday announced $600m and a line of cut-price credit in development aid
for Africa as he called for expanded trade, all part of an effort to
limit China's influence on the continent.
Fifty-four countries were represented - with attendance by 41 African
heads of state and government - at the 3rd India-Africa Forum summit
in New Delhi, India's biggest-ever diplomatic outreach to the
"India is honoured to be a development partner for Africa," Modi
said. "It is a partnership beyond strategic concerns and economic
The development grants were to include 50 000 scholarships for
Africans to study in India. India will also offer $10bn in concessional credit
during the next five years, in addition to an ongoing credit
programme of $7.4bn. Concessional credit consists of loans provided at interest lower than
market rates. They are one of India 's main development aid
Both sides also decided to boost commercial and energy ties. Trade
between India and Africa has already doubled to nearly $72bn over the last five years.
"We will give high priority to increase trade and investment flows
between India and Africa. We will make trade more balanced. We will
facilitate Africa's access to the Indian market," Modi said.
India's push for aid and commercial ties is seen as an attempt to
catch up with the massive Chinese influence in Africa.
Indian companies are interested in African markets and natural
resources, while African nations want India's expertise in high-tech
sectors like information technology and telecommunications.
"African energy helps run the engine of the Indian economy; its
resources are powering our industries and African prosperity offers
growing market for Indian products," Modi said earlier.
Currently, India's economic engagement pales in comparison to China,
which has trade with Africa accounting for more than $200bn. Beijing extended credit lines worth $30bn to
Africa last year.
But India is looked at as a viable alternative to China for African
countries as the Chinese economy sees a slowdown, foreign policy
analyst Richa Sekhani said.
Participants at the summit also decided to push for permanent seats
on the United Nations Security Council, currently comprised of China,
France, Russia, Britain and the United States.
"We have remained underdogs at the UN," Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe, who addressed the summit as chair of the African Union,
said. "Together, Africa and India constitute one-third of the world's
population. Surely, their rights must be respected."
The two sides also discussed closer defence and security ties,
including enhancing counter-terrorism co-operation against the backdrop
of a growing arc of terrorism from Nigeria to Somalia.
India has historic ties with Africa. A large Indian diaspora,
numbering about 2.7 million, has helped build closer relations.
The four-day long summit in Delhi was considered the largest
gathering of African leaders abroad. It was much larger than its 2008
and 2011 editions, which featured 15 African countries.
All major African leaders - including South Africa's President Jacob Zuma and
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi - attended the meeting. But
there was some controversy over the presence of Sudan's Omar
al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.
Heavy security was deployed in the Indian capital, including at
Indira Gandhi Stadium, which was converted into a makeshift
convention centre for the summit.