Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday, outlined 10 guiding principles for deepening India’s engagement with Africa to help in its economic growth and tackle challenges like terrorism and climate change.
PM Modi who arrived in Uganda on Tuesday on the second leg of his Africa tour, addressed the Parliament of Uganda on Wednesday and said India is proud to be Africa’s partner.
“Uganda is central to our commitment to the continent,” he said in his address, the first by an Indian Prime Minister in the Parliament of Uganda.
He said Uganda, also known as “Pearl of Africa, is a land of immense beauty, great wealth of resources and rich heritage.
He said India and Uganda were connected to each other by ancient maritime links, the dark ages of colonial rule, the shared struggle for freedom and the uncertain paths as independent countries in a divided world.
“Today, India and Africa stand on the threshold of a future of great promise: as confident, secure, youthful, innovative, and dynamic people,” he said, adding that Uganda is an example of Africa on the move.
He said India’s engagement with Africa would be guided by 10 principles and described them in detail.
“We will strengthen our cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism; keeping our cyberspace safe and secure; and, supporting the UN in advancing and keeping peace,” he said.
He said India would work with African nations to keep the oceans open and free for the benefit of all nations.
“The world needs cooperation and not competition in the eastern shores of Africa and the eastern Indian Ocean. That is why India’s vision of Indian Ocean Security is cooperative and inclusive, rooted in security and growth for all in the region,” he said, apparently referring to China’s maneuvers in the Horn of Africa, including opening its first so called support base on the continent last year in Djibouti .
“Africa will be at the top of our priorities. We will continue to intensify and deepen our engagement with Africa. As we have shown, it will be sustained and regular,” he said.
“Our development partnership will be guided by your priorities,” he said. He said India will keep its markets open and make it easier and more attractive to trade with India.
“We will support our industry to invest in Africa,”he said,
India will harness its experience with digital revolution to support Africa’s development; improve delivery of public services; extend education and health; spread digital literacy; expand financial inclusion; and mainstream the marginalised, he said.
PM Modi said Africa has 60 per cent of the world’s arable land, but produces just 10 per cent of the global output.
“We will work with you to improve Africa’s agriculture,” he said.
The prime minister said the partnership between India and Africa would address the challenges of climate change.
“We will work with Africa to ensure a just international climate order; to preserve our biodiversity; and, adopt clean and efficient energy sources,” he said.
As global engagement in Africa increases, PM Modi said, “We must all work together to ensure that Africa does not once again turn into a theatre of rival ambitions, but becomes a nursery for the aspirations of Africa’s youth,”
He said India and Africa would work together for a just, representative and democratic global order that has a voice and a role for one-third of humanity that lives in Africa and India.
“India’s own quest for reforms in the global institutions is incomplete without an equal place for Africa. That will be a key purpose of our foreign policy,” PM Modi said.
“Africa must walk in step with the rest of the world. India will work with you and for you. Our partnership will build instruments of empowerment in Africa. We will stand in solidarity with your endeavours, in transparency, with respect and on the principle of equality,” he said.
PM Modi also cited an Ugandan saying “Anayejitahidi hufaidi which means “one who makes the extra effort will benefit.
“India has made that extra effort for Africa. And will always do so for Africa’s benefit,” Modi said.
He said Indian companies have invested over USD 54 billion in Africa and India’s trade with the continent is now over USD 62 billion.
“This is over 21 per cent more than in the previous year. Africa’s exports to India are growing. And, our economic ties are now increasingly driven by new partnerships of innovation in the digital economy,” he said.
“With several coastal nations, our partnership now increasingly seeks to harness the benefits of Blue Economy in a sustainable manner. And, India’s medicines turned the tide on diseases that were once a threat to Africa’s future. They also continue to make healthcare affordable and accessible to many,” he said.
PM Modi said with Uganda, India has deepened its partnership and engagement across the vast expanse of Africa.
India’s development partnership currently includes implementation of 180 Lines of Credit worth about USD 11 billion in over 40 African countries. At the last India Africa Forum Summit in 2015, India had committed a concessional Line of Credit of USD 10 billion and USD 600 million in grant assistance.