India offers USD 5 billion credit line to Africa

Addis Ababa: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday announced a mammoth five-billion-dollar credit to Africa for various development projects, reflecting India`s growing ties with the resource-rich continent.

Singh also declared an additional USD 700 million package to establish new institutions and training programmes across the continent, besides USD 300 million for a new Ethio-Djibouti railway line in Ethiopia.

"We will offer 5 billion US dollars for the next three years under lines of credit to help Africa achieve its development goals," Singh said addressing the second Africa-India Forum summit here.

Offering India`s support to Africa to realise its vast potential, Singh said there was a new economic growth story emerging from Africa.

"Africa possesses all the prerequisites to become a major growth pole of the world. There is good news in the struggle against HIV and AIDS, as well as in improving literacy, reducing infant mortality and building institutions of representative government," he said.

Singh noted the success of the Pan-African E-Network project and announced plans to establish an India-Africa Virtual University which could meet the demand among African students for higher studies in Indian institutions.

"We further propose that 10,000 new scholarships under this proposed University will be available for African students after its establishment," he said.

Singh said India will help set up a food processing cluster and an integrated textiles cluster to develop local markets.

Singh also announced setting up of an India-Africa Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting which will harness satellite technology for the agriculture and fisheries sectors as well as contribute towards disaster preparedness and management of natural resources.

"We have received a request to support the establishment of an India-Africa University for Life and Earth Sciences. We would be happy to support this important venture," he said.

"As part of our new initiatives in the social and economic sectors we will establish Rural Technology Parks, Food Testing Laboratories, Food Processing Business Incubation Centres and Centres on Geo-Informatics Applications and Rural Development," he said.

Favouring better air connectivity with the region, Singh said India would be happy to increase the access of African airlines to Indian cities in a significant manner over the next three years.

Singh said India will contribute USD two million for the African Union Mission in Somalia as a token of its commitment to support Africa`s endeavours for seeking indigenous solutions to their problems.

He also asked the private sector to be fully involved in the efforts to integrate the economies of India and Africa.

"The private sectors should be fully involved in the efforts to integrate our economies. I propose that we establish an India-Africa Business Council which will bring together business leaders from both sides," he said.