Kampala, July 25 (IANS) Stating that India has deepened its partnership and engagement across the vast expanse of Africa, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday charted out 10 principles of his country’s engagement with African nations.
“India is proud to be Africa’s partner,” Modi said while addressing the Ugandan Parliament, the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister.
“And, Uganda is central to our commitment to the continent,” he said.
He assured India’s continued support to Uganda in the fields of agriculture and healthcare, education and training, infrastructure and energy, capacity building in government and training in defence.
“As with Uganda, we have deepened our partnership and engagement across the vast expanse of Africa,” Modi stated.
“In the past four years, our President, Vice President and I have collectively visited no less than 25 countries in Africa. Our Ministers have covered virtually all African nations.”
The Prime Minister also said that as many as 32 heads of state or government from African countries visited India in the last four years.
“India’s engagement with Africa will continue to be guided by 10 principles,” Modi stated in the presence of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in the House .
“One, Africa will be at the top of our priorities,” he said.
“We will continue to intensify and deepen our engagement with Africa. As we have shown, it will be sustained and regular.”
Secondly, Modi said, India’s development partnership will be guided by Africa’s priorities and by relying on African talent and skills.
“Three, we will keep our markets open and make it easier and more attractive to trade with India,” he said.
“We will support our industry to invest in Africa.”
The fourth principle, the Prime Minister said will be to harness India’s 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.
“Five, Africa has 60 per cent of the world’s arable land, but produces just 10 per cent of the global output,” he said.
“We will work with you to improve Africa’s agriculture.”
The sixth principle, Modi said, is the India-Africa partnership addressing 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.
Seventh, he said, both sides will strengthen cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism; keeping cyberspace safe and secure; and, supporting the UN in advancing and keeping peace.
“Eight, we will work with African nations to keep the oceans open and free for the benefit of all nations,” Modi stated.
“The world needs cooperation and not competition in the eastern shores of Africa and the eastern Indian Ocean,” he said reflecting India’s vision of a free and inclusive Indo Ocean region.
As the ninth principle, the Prime Minister called for both sides to 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”.
“Ten, just as India and Africa fought colonial rule together, we will 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,” he stated.
Modi also highlighted India’s development partnership with Africa which currently includes implementation of 180 lines of credit worth about $11 billion in over 40 African countries.
“At the last India Africa Forum Summit, we had committed a concessional line of credit of $10 billion and $600 million in grant assistance,” he said.
He also mentioned India-Africa trade figure which is now over $62 billion, 21 per cent more than the previous year.
Addressing the gathering ahead of Modi’s speech, President Yoseveni said that with economic integration, Africa will become an economic powerhouse in the world.
He also described India as among the reliable partners of Africa.
Earlier in the day, Modi participated in the India-Uganda Business Forum during which he said that India is willing to address the current trade imbalance with Uganda.
Modi arrived here on Tuesday from Rwanda on the second leg of his five-day, three-nation tour of Africa that will also take him to South Africa.
This is the first Prime Ministerial visit from India to Uganda in over 20 years.
For Modi, this is his second visit to this East African nation after his visit in 2007 as Gujarat Chief Minister.