India and Africa sign major cooperation deals

ETHIOPIA, Addis Ababa : (From R) Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh (R), Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, and Chairperson of the African Union Commision Jean Ping attend the opening ceremony of the Second Africa-India Forum Summit, attended by 15 African countries pn May 24, 2011 in Addis Ababa.The leaders will discuss significant aspects of the India-Africa partnership with the objective of enhancing and widening its ambit for mutual benefit.

India and a host of African countries have decided to deepen cooperation and trade-investment(s) among themselves.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and around 10 African leaders opened Tuesday the second India-Africa summit aimed at consolidating trade ties between the two regions, which together account for a third of the world’s population.

India has stepped up its economic foray into Africa where its fellow Asian powerhouse China has made huge investments over the past decade.

“Africa possesses all the prerequisites to become a major growth pole of the world in the 21st century,” said Singh. “We will work with Africa to enable it realise this potential.”

In addition to the $5 billion credit line for the next three years, the Indian premier also announced an additional $700 million to build institutions and training programmes in different African regions.

India is also ramping up its political and security ties with Africa and pledged $2 million for the African Union Mission in Somalia tasked with protecting that country’s fragile transitional government.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addresses delegates and partcipants at the Second Africa-India Forum Summit attended by 15 African countries in Addis Ababa on May 24. India will seek to expand its economic footprint in Africa, where rival China has made major inroads.

The two sides will Wednesday sign a cooperation framework to further bolster the economic relations that got a boost after the first India-Africa summit in 2008 in New Delhi.

They will also sign a political statement — the so-called Addis Ababa Declaration — calling for comprehensive reform of the United Nations system including an expanded UN Security Council in which the partners have pledged each other’s support for a permanent seat.

India in 2008 deployed its navy to be part of a foreign armada fighting piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

Both India and China have turned to Africa to seek energy resources to power their fast-paced economies, but while China prefers government-to-government deals, Indian investment is mainly in the private sector.

This is expected by India given China’s increasing political-economic reach across the continent.  India knows it just can’t compete with investment that China pours into Africa.  How does India compete with China? Let the private players take lead and limit the government’s role to diplomacy and things like investments, scholarship/trainings etc. Soft power is what India should look for.

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