India yesterday announced a 5.4 billion-dollar credit line to support Africa's development as 14 African leaders, including President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana gathered in New Delhi, India for a historic Indo-African partnership Forum.
Information Technology (IT), rail transportation system, telecommunications, power generation, small, medium and micro enterprises are among key areas to benefit from the package within the next five years.
Additionally, the Asian country, under a Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme has unilaterally decided to provide preferential market access for exports from all 50 Least Developed Countries, 34 of which are in Africa.
Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who announced the package at the opening session of the two-day forum, said products covered included cocoa, cotton, cashew nuts, sugarcane, ready-made garments, fish-fillets, copper and aluminium ore, as well as non-industrial diamonds.
In the last four years, India has extended lines of credit amounting to 2.15 billion dollars to Africa.
Dr Singh said his country was determined to become close partners in the continent's resurgence.
Africa Union Chairman, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Mr Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and President Joseph Kabila Kabanga of the Democratic Republic of Congo, are among those attending.
The meeting is expected to fashion out a comprehensive partnership framework to guide the economic partnership between Africa and India into the future.
This comes at a time when the continent is enjoying enormous global attention with the world's most powerful economies jostling to establish a strong presence.
Dr Singh said it was his country's intention to enhance its 'Aid to Africa budget' of the External Affairs Ministry for implementing projects in critical areas, focusing on human resource development and capacity building.
'Over the next five to six years, we propose to undertake projects against grants in excess of 500 million dollars.'
He said it was the wish of India to see the 21st Century as a Century of Asia and Africa with the peoples of the two continents working together to promote inclusive globalisation.
President Kufuor said the success of the Indo-African forum and its framework for co-operation should galvanize and accelerate growth and stability in Africa and India.
He encouraged his colleague leaders to ensure that human resource development, institutional capacity building and deepening of economic co-operation for their mutual benefit were made the main pillars of the partnership.
President Kufuor said the emerging partnership should not be exclusive to only governments but must include the private sector, businesses, civil societies, education and cultural institutions.
He noted that there was a lot Africa could learn and benefit from, through its engagement with India, citing the country's impressive Green Revolution, mastery of ICT, general engineering and success in the promotion of small and medium enterprises.
President Kufuor said he was confident that their shared history, common positions at the United Nations and other global forums and bond of friendship would stand them in good stead for the challenges of the globalised world.