Modi Woos African Leaders With Cheap Loans in Bid for Influence

  • Modi announces new $10.6 billion in concessional loans, grants
  • Calls for cooperation on maritime security, climate change

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi doubled his nation’s development assistance to Africa, announcing $10.6 billion in cheap loans and grants to support healthcare, scholarships and clean energy on the continent.

“India and Africa must rise together," Modi told dozens of African heads of state attending a summit in New Delhi on Thursday. He called for the two regions to join hands in combating climate change and terrorism, boosting maritime security, and reforming international institutions including the United Nations Security Council.

The pledges come as India seeks to strengthen its foothold in Africa, a region where trade and investments have trailed China’s despite ancient economic ties. While Modi said India-Africa trade has more than doubled to $70 billion in about a decade, that’s less than half what China achieved in the four years to 2014.

The aid would comprise $10 billion of concessional credit over the next five years, as well $600 million in grants to fund an India-Africa development fund, health fund, and 50,000 scholarships. Those are new commitments, Modi said, in addition to the $8.6 billion program in loans and aid that India has pledged since 2008.

“No one has done less to contribute to global warming than India and Africa -- no one can be more conscious of climate change than Indians and Africans," Modi said as he invited African nations to join a global solar alliance he plans to launch in Paris on Nov. 30 to compel rich nations to provide money and cheap technology to developing countries.

Modi also backed a project for a pan-Africa "e-network" that would link 48 African countries with India.

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