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Political instability will not deter investments in Africa,says PM

New Delhi is simultaneously working with African countries to operationalise bilateral investment protection agreements that will give comfort to the private sector while investing large moneys

Written by P Vaidyanathan Iyer | Addis Ababa |
May 26, 2011 1:55:03 am

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday made clear India’s intention to boldly invest in resource-rich Africa despite political instability in some countries and skeptics raising doubts about the long-term safety of investments.

Addressing a joint press conference with President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo,who is also the present chairperson of the African Union,Prime Minister Singh said,“We have enough faith in the people,societies and countries of Africa that whatever temporary difficulties they may be facing now,they have the will,the resources and the inclination to overcome them.”

To a question if India would make investments in countries where the political situation was volatile,Singh quoted Lord Keynes and said,“An act of investment is an act of faith.” India had on Tuesday committed a $5 billion line of credit to Africa for infrastructure development projects in addition to $700 million assistance for improving educational facilities and skill sets of people.

New Delhi is simultaneously working with African countries to operationalise bilateral investment protection agreements that will give comfort to the private sector while investing large moneys.

It will also lend legal and regulatory support to public private partnerships,particularly in infrastructure.

In fact,even in the Addis Ababa declaration,India re-affirmed its faith on the ability of African countries to take care of their own problems,with particular reference to Libya. “We appreciate the lead taken by the African Union and endorse their position,” Prime Minister Singh said.

The declaration expressed support for the African Union high-level ad hoc committee’s initiative and the roadmap for a peaceful and consensual resolution of the conflict there. “We call for an immediate cessation of all hostilities in Libya and urge the parties in the conflict to strive towards a political solution through peaceful means and dialogue,” the declaration said. India has significant commercial interests in Libya with more than a dozen companies including state-owned BHEL,DS Construction and Punj Lloyd engaged in large infrastructure projects in the country.

India and Africa agreed to strongly pitch for each other’s interests in the critical areas of trade talks,climate change,UN Security Council memberships with voting rights,nuclear disarmament,global terrorism and millennium development goals. The declaration and the framework for enhanced cooperation not only envisage economic and political cooperation but also cooperation in science,R&D,health,tourism,sports,infrastructure,energy and environment.

In his opening statement at the joint press conference,Singh said,“Our annual trade with Africa is about $46 billion,and growing. Measures to open the Indian market to African exports,including the duty-free preference scheme,are bearing fruit.” In accordance with Africa’s own priorities,India has decided to significantly enhance support for institutional capacity building,technical assistance and training programmes for human resource development,he said.

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