NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi described India and Africa as bright spots of hope and economic opportunity and offered technology and credit to match rival China at a summit with more than 40 African leaders Thursday.
As Modi opened the meeting in the Indian capital, he said Africa was now more settled and stable and “its initiatives are replacing old fault lines with new bridges of reforms and economic integration.”
Modi said in less than a decade India’s trade with Africa has topped $70 billion and that the continent was a major destination for Indian business investment.
India has committed $7.4 billion in concessional credit and $1.2 billion in grants since the first India-Africa Summit in 2008. It is developing infrastructure, public transport, clean energy, irrigation, agriculture and manufacturing capacity across Africa, he said.
African energy helps fuel the Indian economy and and African prosperity offered a growing market for Indian products, he said.
In exchange, India hopes for a share of Africa’s vast natural resources to power its own growth. It also wants to ensure it is not completely overshadowed on the continent by China, which has plowed billions of dollars into Africa, building roads, bridges and power installations in return for access to markets and resources.
“It’s not just China. Others are there as well in the scramble for resources. Japan, the United States, and several emerging markets, such as Malaysia, Brazil, Turkey, are all looking at Africa in their quest for resources,” said Ruchita Beri, an Africa specialist at New Delhi’s Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
India’s major imports from Africa are resources and minerals, including crude oil, coal, gemstones and gold. African countries are a big market for Indian-made pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles and processed petroleum products, with trade growing fast.
Modi shared Africa’s concern of security and stability, especially from terrorism and extremism, and said he had confidence in African leadership and people to rise to those challenges.
Several countries, including Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Benin, sought Indian assistance in dealing with Islamic extremism.
They wanted India to help build their defence capacity so the combined military forces that are now fighting Boko Haram can be strengthened, said Sanjiv Kohli, an Indian External Affairs Ministry official.
India has promised to help train soldiers in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency tactics, Kohli said.
Modi regretted that India had not done as well as African nations wanted at times. “There are commitments we have not fulfilled as quickly as we should have.”
“We will raise the level of our support for your vision of a prosperous, integrated and united Africa that is a major partner for the world,” he said.