India pledges $5.7 billion, Africa backs India for UN seat (Lead)

May 25th, 2011 - 6:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Addis Ababa, May 25 (IANS) The curtains came down on India’s second summit with Africa, with New Delhi pledging $5.7 billion for 80 capacity-building institutions across the continent and the African Union declaring support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

“Our total commitment over the next three years is expected to be 5.7 billion dollars to help Africa achieve its development goals,” Manmohan Singh said at a joint press conference with Teodore Obiang Nguema Mbasago, chairperson of the African Union and president of Equatorial Guinea.

“The consolidation of our financial assistance consisting of grants and lines of credit into a cohesive plan has begun to show results in projects of interest to Africa,” he said in the Ethiopian capital, the seat of the 53-nation African Union.

“The similarity of our development experiences and circumstances has made India-Africa cooperation a genuine two-way street. This is its true strength and its distinctive feature,” he said at the end of the two-day India-Africa Forum summit in which leaders of 15 African countries - selected to represent the continent by the African Union - and India took part.

The two sides resolved to forge “a contemporary and modern partnership” and discussed a range of bilateral relations including trade and investment and global issues such as UN reforms, terrorism and climate change.

The summit, held every three years, culminated in the Addis Ababa Declaration and the Africa-India Framework of Cooperation that formed a blueprint for taking bilateral relations to new heights till the next summit in New Delhi in 2014.

The first summit was held in New Delhi in 2008.

Manmohan Singh announced that India will set up over 80 new institutions at the Pan-African, regional and bilateral levels in consultation with the African Union.

These institutions will encompass a wide array of areas ranging from agriculture, rural development and food processing to information technology, vocational training, English language centres, and entrepreneurial development institutes.

“In accordance with Africa’s own priorities, we have decided to significantly enhance support for institutional capacity building, technical assistance and training programmes for human resource development in Africa,” he said.

Welcoming India’s initiatives, Africa declared its support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and backed New Delhi’s stand for reform of global institutions of governance.

“Africa not only expects from India, but will be able to assist India in areas like the UN reforms,” the Equatorial Guinea president said in response to a question at the press conference.

“India will be able to count on the support of Africa (for India’s bid for a permanent seat in the Security Council,” he declared.

The 53-nation African Union holds the key to reform and expansion of the UN Security Council and India’s ambitions for a permanent seat in the global body.

Signalling a new economic surge into Africa, Manmohan Singh said India was not deterred by reports of political instability from investing in Africa. He underlined that the Indian government had “full faith” in the societies and systems of Africa.

“There is an old saying attributed to Lord Keynes (an eminent British economist) that an act of investment is an act of faith,” he said at the joint press conference.

“The government and people of India have enough faith in the societies, systems and governments of Africa to overcome temporary difficulties,” Manmohan Singh replied when an African journalist asked him what made India invest in Africa despite political instability in parts of the continent.

“They have the necessary will and resources to overcome them,” the Indian leader stated.

He struck an optimistic note about the expansion of India-Africa economic ties. India’s bilateral trade is currently estimated to be $46 billion and has now set an ambitious target of $70 billion by 2015.

A wave of Afro-optimism has swept India Inc, with almost every major Indian corporate house making economic foray into different African countries.

“Africa is determined to partner in India’s economic resurgence as India is committed to be a close partner in Africa’s renaissance,” the Addis Ababa Declaration stated, saying that “African countries are progressing rapidly, opening greater avenues for economic cooperation”.

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