India keen on larger devt projects in Africa

After offering more than $5 billion line of credit, India is willing to provide more financial assistance for large development projects in African countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said Sunday.

Addressing the opening session of the 9th India-Africa Project Partnership conclave in New Delhi, Sharma said India was ready to provide more technical and financial support for development of big projects in the African region.

He said the Indian government has launched the "project credit" programme aimed at helping the smaller countries develop large projects.

"I request you to take advantage of the project credit programme," Sharma said while addressing the large gathering of African policymakers and entrepreneurs.

More than 900 delegates from 45 African countries are participating in the three-day conclave organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with Exim Bank of India.

Sharma said the new financial assistance would be in addition to the $5 billion line of credit offered by the Indian government.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced $5 billion line of credit for the development of the African region during the 2nd Africa India Forum Summit in Addis Ababa in 2011. India has also offered $700 million for building pan-Africa educational and technical institutions.

Sharma said India would help build 70 educational and technical institutions for development of human resource in Africa.

The minister admitted that there had been some delays in the development of certain institutions, including the proposed Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) in Uganda.

"I know there have been delays, but it will be done," he said.

On trade and investment, Sharma, who also holds textiles portfolio, said there was huge scope for further strengthening the trade and investment relations.

He said Indian firms have invested nearly $45 billion in Africa in the last one decade. India-Africa bilateral trade is around $70 billion.

"If you ask me if I am happy with these figures, my answer is no," said Sharma, emphasising the need for further boosting the flow of trade and investments.

Trade between India and Africa is estimated to rise to $90 billion by 2015.