Africa a bright spot: Narendra Modi

29 Oct 2015 13:40pm
By Patience Smith
NEW DELHI, 29 OCT (NAMPA) – Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi opened the gathering of Heads of State at the India-Africa Forum Summit 2015 (IAFS) in India on Thursday with an impassioned speech about long-standing solidarity and friendship between India and Africa.
“This is not a new journey, nor a new beginning, but it is a new promise of a great future for an ancient relationship,” he said.
Modi said to strengthen the partnership, India will offer additional concessional credit of US$10 billion (about N.dollars 1,3 trillion) over the next five years, in addition to the ongoing credit programme currently in place for African countries.
He said his country will also offer grant assistance of US$600 million (more than N.dollars 8 billion). This includes US$100 million for a development fund, US$10 million for an India-Africa health fund and the cost of 50 000 scholarships in India over the next five years.
Forty-one Heads of State, including Modi, African Union Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Southern African Development Community (SADC) Chairperson, Robert Mugabe were present and scheduled to speak at the meeting.
Modi said skills, learning and training centres will be established across Africa as well.
Nampa has learned from the Namibian High Commissioner to India, Pius Dunaisky that an entrepreneurship-training centre will be opened in Okahandja, funded by the Indian Government. He could not put an exact date on when this would happen.
Modi said the youth in both India and Africa need attention.
“Two-thirds of India and two-thirds of Africa is under the age of 35 years. And if the future belongs to the youth, then this century is ours to shape and build.”
He added that Africa’s economic reforms were “phenomenal”.
“A hundred thousand new businesses were registered in Africa in 2013 and mobile phones now reach 95 per cent of the population in many places while digital technology is transforming lives in Africa.”
He said his country was prepared to assist Africa in connecting countries through road infrastructure, agricultural technologies, healthcare, and many others.
“Africa has 60 per cent of the world’s arable land with just 30 per cent of the global output.”
Africa is however a bright spot in an otherwise unpredictable world on many levels, and it could be the main source of global food security.
Climate change, the Blue Economy (marine life) and the care of “Mother Earth” were priorities, the yoga-practicing PM said.
He invited the African leaders to an alliance of solar-rich countries, which he intends to launch in Paris on 30 November during the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) meeting on the environment.
The Indian PM said he was looking forward to a relationship of mutual interest, equality, dignity and solidarity.
“Today we pledge to walk together, with our steps in rhythm and our voices in harmony.”
The third India-Africa Forum Summit is taking place in New Delhi and ends on Thursday. The summit is the official platform for India-Africa relations. The previous India-Africa summits took place in 2008 and 2011.