India for stronger eco ties with Africa: Preneet Kaur

New Delhi: India on Monday pitched for stronger economic ties with African nations and underlined its commitment to assist the continent in achieving its development goals.

"We are committed to fulfilling the developmental aspirations of Africa. I am happy to note that India`s trade with the continent has increased by more than 35 per cent during 2010-11," Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said.

Addressing African ministers and business people at the India-Africa business conclave here, Kaur stressed the need to evolve new markets and scale up bilateral ties between the continent and India.

"We among the developing countries must not depend only on traditional markets but must develop new markets as well…..this meeting would enhance economic ties between India and Africa," she said. "We have also concluded the Second India-Africa Trade Ministers meeting which has provided a unique platform to enhance our business engagement," she said.

Observing that Africa and India have several common challenges impeding development, Kaur said the partnership between the two had been institutionalised under the rubric of India-Africa Forum Summits (IAFS), which serve as a platform to discuss these obstacles.

Pledging India`s support in fulfilling the continent`s developmental goals, Kaur noted that at the second IAFS in Addis Ababa last year Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced the availability of USD 5 billion in lines of credit to Africa.

India would be establishing more than 100 capacity building institutions in Africa, Kaur said, adding 22,000 scholarships would also be made available for African students to pursue various academic courses in India. "We are also setting up 32 institutions at regional level and approximately 40 institutions at bilateral level. India has a large exposure through the Lines of Credit in Africa," Kaur said.