Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday pledged greater engagement with Africa, seeking to build on economic ties that have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.
Talking at the first of a series of annual meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in India, Modi said the country has so far extended 152 lines of credits worth close to $8 billion to as many as 44 African countries. At the third India-Africa Forum Summit in 2015, India also committed $10 billion for development projects in Africa over a five-year period. “In the sports arena, India cannot compete with Africa in long-distance running. But I can assure you that India will always stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, supporting you in the long and difficult race for a better future,” Modi said here.
The statement comes amid mounting suspicion about massive Chinese investments in Africa and also its growing global ambitions. Recently, India boycotted China’s One Belt, One Road project, which purportedly aims to create the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation. In 2015, China announced a new strategy that aimed to create mutual prosperity between China and Africa. China has backed this proposal up with a commitment of $60 billion of new investment in major capital projects, according to Forbes.
India joined the AfDB (as a non-regional member) in 1983, but it’s the first time that the country is hosting AfDB’s annual meetings.
Indian exports to Africa, too, jumped to $23 billion in 2016-17, against $14 billion in 2007-08. Similarly, India’s imports from Africa rose to $28 billion in 2016-17 from $20 billion in 2007-08.
India’s commodity trade with Africa in 2015-16 was higher than that with the US, Modi said. Between 1996 to 2016, Africa accounted for nearly one-fifth of Indian overseas direct investments. India is the fifth-largest country investing in the continent, with investments over the past 20 years amounting to $54 billion.
‘Working with Japan, US to help Africa’
Modi said India is also working with Japan and the US to support development in Africa. Indian and Japanese research institutions have come up with a vision document in consultations with think tanks from Africa. “The idea is that India and Japan, with other willing partners, would explore joint initiatives in skills, health, infrastructure, manufacturing and connectivity,” Modi said.
DBT in cooking gas saves $4 billion
The PM said India has saved over $4 billion in the past three years by paying cooking gas subsidies directly to the poor rather than indirectly through price concessions — a strategy that is being replicated in other areas as well. Under the ‘Give it up’ campaign (which asks people to give up
gas subsidy voluntarily so that that can be extended to the poor), over 10 million Indians have volunteered to do so. This has helped in giving more than 15 million connections to poor families.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley said: “The Indian Ocean might separate us geographically, but the partnership and collaborations will be the modern bridge between the two oldest civilisations, with the bank (AfDB) being the strongest pillar.”