Addis Ababa: Taking its burgeoning ties with Africa to a new high, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday announced a massive USD 5 billion aid for the next three years and an additional USD 700 million for setting up new institutions and training programmes across the African continent.
Describing Africa as "a major growth pole of the world", Manmohan Singh said at the opening session of the 2nd Africa-India Forum Summit that began here: "We will work with Africa to enable it to realize its potential. We believe that a new vision is required for Africa`s development and participation in global affairs."
Manmohan Singh also announced a host of initiatives designed to expand India`s footprint in Africa that included USD 300 million for the development of a new Ethiopia-Djibouti railway.
With capacity building being the core of India`s engagement with Africa, Manmohan Singh announced the establishment of new institutions at pan-African level that will include: an India-Africa Integrated Textiles Cluster, an India-Africa Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting and an India-Africa Institute for Rural Development.
Other important initiatives unveiled by India at the summit included supporting the establishment of an India-Africa Virtual University. India also pledged 10,000 scholarships under this proposed university that will be available for African students.
Manmohan Singh also made a strong pitch for reform of global political and economic institutions, including the UN Security Council for which India needs Africa`s support.
"The current international economic and political system is far from favourable, specially for developing countries. The world faces new challenges in assuring food and energy security," he said, adding: "The global institutions of governance are outmoded and are working under stress."
"We, therefore, need a new spirit of solidarity among developing countries," he stressed.
India and Africa began their second summit Tuesday morning with a rendition of the anthems of the African Union and India at the African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, which is seen as the political centre of the continent.