INDIA UNVEILS $5 BILLION DEVELOPMENT FUNDS FOR AFRICA
AFRICA’S campaign for fair trade practices and funds to develop its infrastructure has received a boost from the government of India.
The cheery news came yesterday from the country’s Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, at the 2nd Africa-India Forum Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he told 15 African leaders that his administration was set to assist the continent accelerate its development.
African leaders present at the event included President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, who is also the chairperson of the African Union (AU); Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo of Nigeria, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya; President Idriss Deby of Tchad, Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza, Deputy President Kgalema Motlan of South Africa, among others.
The funds, to be expended under “enhanced co-operation” between the two blocs, form part of the New Delhi Declaration of 2008.
The Indian leader hinted that New Delhi would focus on “infrastructure development, regional integration, capacity building and human resource development in Africa.”
He said: “We will offer $5 billion for the next three years under lines of credit to help achieve the development goals of Africa. We will offer an additional $700 million to establish new institutions and training programmes in consultation with the African Union (AU) and its institutions.
“Under the lines of credit that we offered at the first summit, we had specifically looked at promoting regional integration through infrastructure development. On the advice of the African Union, I am happy to announce that we would support the development of a new Ethio-Djibout Railway line to the tune of $300 million for this important regional project.”
Singh said following the success of the Pan-African E-Network Project, “we propose to take the next step and establish an India-Africa Virtual University. This, we hope, will help to meet some of the demand in Africa for higher studies in Indian institutions. We further propose that 10,000 new scholarships under this proposed university will be available for African students after its establishment.”
And in continuation of the capacity building programme, especially in the human resources development sector designed at the first summit in 2008, Singh announced the proposal to establish new institutions at the pan-African level. These are India-Africa Food Processing Cluster that is expected to contribute to value-addition and the creation of regional and export markets; India-Africa Integrated Textiles Cluster to support the cotton industry and its processing and conversion into high value products; India-Africa Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting to harness satellite technology for the agriculture and fisheries sectors as well as contribute towards disaster preparedness and management of natural resources.
“We have received a request to support the establishment of an India-Africa University for Life and Earth Sciences. We would be happy to support this important venture,” Singh said, adding that the setting up of an India-Africa Institute of Agriculture and Rural Development is also underway.
Another area of priority is air connectivity, which Singh noted its inadequacy “has created the biggest gaps in our interaction with Africa. I would be happy to increase the access of African airlines to Indian cities in a significant manner over the next three years.”
Recognising Africa’s strong regional organisations, Singh pledged to work with “regional economic communities to establish at the regional level, soil, water and tissue testing laboratories, regional farm science centres, seed production-cum demonstration centres, and material testing laboratories for highways.”
At the bilateral level, the Indian leader said, “ we propose to establish institutes for English language training, information technology, entrepreneurship development and vocational training.”
And as part of India’s new initiatives in the social and economic sectors, the establishment of rural technology parks, food testing laboratories, food processing business incubation centres and centres on geo-informatics applications and rural development, is also on the card.
In education, he announced an increase from 500 to 900 scholarships yearly for graduate studies in India, offering of 2,500 training positions under the Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation Programme (ITEC) yearly for the next three years. “Our total commitment for the next three years by way of scholarships to African students will stand at more than 22,000,” Singh said.
To stimulate trade and investment flows as well as transfer of technology, he proposed the establishment of India-Africa Business Council, which will bring together chief executive officers of major corporations from both sides. And to enhance African capacities in the maintenance of peace and security, a contribution of $2 million for the African Union Mission in Somalia was also announced. The summit ends today with the endorsement of the “Africa-India Frame-work for Enhanced Co-operation” as part of the highlights of the Africa Day Celebration.
The first edition of the summit held in New Delhi in 2008 produced what is now known as “Africa-India Frame-work for Co-operation” enumerating seven areas of partnership.