“India will work with you and for you. Our partnership will build instruments of empowerment in Africa,” India Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Ugandan parliament on Wednesday.
Speaking during a special sitting attended by President Museveni, Modi said: “We will stand in solidarity with your endeavours, in transparency, with respect and on the principle of equality. We will speak for you, and with you.”
He cited ancient maritime links, the dark age of colonialism, the shared struggle for freedom, the uncertain paths as independent countries in a divided world, the dawn of the new opportunities and the unity of aspirations of young population, “all of this connect us”.
“Mr President, your visionary leadership has enabled Ugandans of Indian origin to return to their home, regain their lives and help rebuild the nation that they love. In opening the State House to celebration of Deepawali, you have lit up the many strands of ties that bind us.”
He said at the sacred site in Jinja, where a statue of Gandhiji now stands, India will build a Gandhi Heritage Centre.
“As we approach the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, there can be no better homage than a Centre to remind us of Africa’s role in shaping his mission.”
He said the story of India’s own freedom struggle is intimately linked to Africa. It is not just the 21 years that Gandhiji spent in Africa, or the First Non- Cooperation Movement he led.
He said for India, the moral principles of independence movement, were not just confined to the boundaries of India.
“It was a universal quest for liberty, dignity, equality and opportunity for every human being. Nowhere did it apply more than in Africa: India pursued Afro-Asian solidarity in Bandung. We stood firm in opposition to apartheid in South Africa. We took leading and bold positions in former Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe, in Guinea Bassau, Angola and Namibia.”
Modi noted that India’s principled support to Africa’s liberation movements often came at cost to the nation’s trade. This mattered nothing in comparison to Africa’s freedom.
“Our international partnerships over the past 7 decades have been prompted as much by economic impulse as by moral principles & emotional bonds. We sought a fair & equitable access to markets and resources. We fought together to make development the foundation of global trade.”
He said, today, India and Africa stand on the threshold of a future of great promise: as confident, secure, youthful, innovative, and dynamic people.
“India is proud to be Africa’s partner. Uganda is central to our commitment to the continent.”
Credit to Uganda
Yesterday, Modi announced two Lines of Credit for Uganda. The first, of US $ 141 million for electricity lines. And the second, of US $ 64 million for agriculture and dairy production.
“We were honoured to host all 54 countries at the third Africa-India Forum Summit in October 2015. We were also privileged to host many African leaders for the inaugural summit of the International Solar Alliance.”
He said the partnership currently includes implementation of 180 Lines of Credit worth about US $ 11 billion in over 40 African countries At the last Africa India Forum Summit.
India had committed a concessional Line of Credit of US $ 10 billion and US $ 600 million in grant assistance.
“As we work together for prosperity, we have stood together for peace. Indian soldiers have served in blue helmets so that Africa’s children can look to a future of peace.”
He said India was proud of the work of Indian peacekeepers in over a dozen UN peacekeeping missions in Africa.
In all the UN peacekeeping Missions in the world, 163 Indians have made the supreme sacrifice. This is the highest number for any country.
“Almost 70% of these embraced martyrdom just in Africa. India’s engagement with Africa will continue to be guided by 10 principles. One, Africa will be at the top of our priorities. We will continue to intensify and deepen our engagement with Africa. As we have shown, it will be sustained and regular.”
He added: “Two, our development partnership will be guided by your priorities. It will be on terms that will be comfortable for you, that will liberate your potential and not constrain your future. We will build as much local capacity & create as much local opportunities as possible.”
India will keep its markets open and make it easier and more attractive to trade with India.
“We will support our industry to invest in Africa.”
India will harness India’s experience with digital revolution to support Africa’s development; improve delivery of public services; extend education and health; spread digital literacy; expand financial inclusion; and mainstream the marginalised.
Africa has 60% of the world’s arable land, but produces just 10% of the global output. “We will work with you to improve Africa’s agriculture”.
India’s partnership will address the challenges of climate change and strengthen cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism; keeping our cyberspace safe and secure; and, supporting the UN in advancing and keeping peace.
“We will work with African nations to keep the oceans open and free for the benefit of all nations. The world needs cooperation and not competition in the eastern shores of Africa and the eastern Indian Ocean.”
“As global engagement in Africa increases, We must all work together to ensure that Africa does not once again turn into a theatre of rival ambitions, But becomes a nursery for the aspirations of Africa’s youth.”
He concluded: “Just as India and Africa fought colonialism together, we will work together for a just, representative and democratic global order that has a voice and a role for one-third of humanity that lives in Africa and India. If this is to be a century of nations, rising together in freedom and equality if this is to be an age when the light of opportunity dawns on all humans: if this is a time when our planet has a more hopeful future then all of this magnificent continent of Africa must walk in step with the rest of the world.”