'Financial aid gives India greater say in African affairs'

New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) Increasing financial and technical assistance by India has helped Asia's third largest economy to have a greater say in Africa's affairs, a senior official of the African Development Bank has said.

"Historically, India shares strong ties with Africa. Increasing financial aid and assistance will give India a greater voice in African affairs," said Preeti Sinha, principal resource mobilisation officer of the African Development Bank.

India has committed $5 billion in lines of credit for infrastructure development in Africa. India has also committed $500 million for capacity development and $700 million to establish new institutions and training centres.

India's commitments include setting up 32 capacity-building institutions at the regional level and 40 at the bilateral level in Africa.

Sinha, who is a native of Delhi and an alumnus of Yale University, said India has also been providing substantial aid through the African Development Bank.

"This is the year of the 13th replenishment of the African Development Fund, a financing window of the African Development Bank Group. We are expecting a substantial increase in the aid from India," Sinha, who is of Indian origin, told IANS in an interview during a visit here.

Sinha, who joined the African Development Bank in 2008, has worked for over 12 years with leading firms like HSBC, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan. She was also associated with the World Economic Forum and now involved in strategy development of the Tunisia-headquartered African Development Bank group.

India is one of the donor countries of the African Development Fund and shareholder of the African Development Bank, which has 54 African and 24 non-African countries as its members. The replenishment period of the African Development Fund Bank is a three year cycle. For the 12th replenishment period that ended this year, India had provided $14.2 million, which was 65 percent higher than the previous support.

"We are expecting similar increase this time also for the 13th replenishment period," she said.

Sinha said India has committed increased financial support to Africa realising its strategic importance.

"In many cases, India is a recipient of aid. However, India must help poorer countries in Africa and other parts of the world to get a greater voice in global affairs," she said.

The Indian government has earmarked $1.3 billion for foreign assistance in the budget for the current financial year that began April 1. India's foreign aid spend has grown by an average more than 30 percent in the past five years. A substantial part of the Indian aid has gone to Africa.

Sinha said during her discussions with the Indian officials, she also sought their support in promoting public-private-partnership (PPP) projects in Africa.

"We offer advice and assistance for long-term projects. During my discussions, I have requested the officials here to encourage Indian firms for PPP projects in Africa," she said.

She said leading Indian companies like the Tatas, Vedanta and Bharti Airtel are expanding their operations and exploring new business opportunities in Africa. All these companies already have substantial business operations in the African continent.

(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be reached at gyanendra.k@ians.in)

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