India not in race with China in Africa: PM

April 9th, 2008 - 4:48 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) India is not “in competition” with China for Africa’s resources, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Wednesday, as the first India-Africa summit ended with the two sides declaring their support for each other in an expanded UN Security Council. “We are not in any race or competition with China or any other country. The desire of India and Africa to work together is not new,” Manmohan Singh told reporters at a joint press conference with leaders and representatives of 14 African countries who participated in the India-Africa Forum Summit.

“We share a colonial past and have been partners for a long time,” he said.

“We don’t seek to impose any pattern in Africa. It’s for the African people to decide on their future,” Manmohan Singh replied, when an African journalist asked him to compare India’s approach towards Africa with that of other Western powers and China.

“We are willing to offer whatever help we can to build capabilities in Africa,” he said, as the curtains came down on the summit.

To illustrate India’s approach that centres on technology transfers and empowerment of the African people through human resource development, the prime minister offered India’s assistance in ushering in a green revolution through holistic capacity building in farm output, storage and transportation.

“India stands committed to work together with Africa to strengthen our cooperation in every possible way. We wish to be partners in Africa’s resurgence.”

Two documents - the Delhi Declaration and the Africa-India Framework for Cooperation - were adopted at the end of the summit, which lays down the blueprint for the India-Africa engagement in the 21st century.

“We have laid firm foundations on which to build the new framework for cooperation. It is now time to plan ahead to implement the joint programmes of cooperation and to build a meaningful and productive Indo-African partnership,” Manmohan Singh said.

“India looks forward to doing so with all the resources at your disposal.

“We hope that this summit has enabled to convey to the people of Africa India’s readiness to be a partner in their quest for stability, peace and prosperity,” Manmohan Singh stressed.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikewete, who is also president of the 53-nation African Union, underlined the need for India and Africa to become stronger partners in all areas. He reaffirmed the continent’s support for India’s place in an expanded UN Security Council.

“Africa and India should have permanent representation in an expanded UN Security Council. We have reaffirmed our commitment to work together so that India can get in and Africa can get in (the Security council),” he said.

Manmohan Singh had Tuesday announced a slew of measures aimed at cementing ties with Africa. These include preferential market access to 34 least developed African countries, more than doubling lines of credit to $5.4 billion over the next five years and increasing ‘Aid to Africa’ budget by investing over $500 million in projects related to capacity building and human resource development.

This blend of enhanced developmental package and human resource development aimed at the empowerment of Africa could prove to be an effective counter against China’s growing economic clout in the African continent.

India’s trade with Africa is estimated to be around $30 billion, which is half of China’s $56 billion. But experts say that India’s development-centric approach will provide it an edge in the long run.

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