With China’s growth slowing, India wants to be Africa’s new sweetheart

India has continued to take advantage of China’s slowing economic growth to improve economic relationships around the world as it moves towards becoming the new driver of the global economy. Now, the focus has turned to Africa, to which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pitched partnership of prosperity backed by a $10.6 billion credit.

“India and Africa must rise together,” Modi told African heads of state attending a summit in New Delhi on Thursday. He asked that his country and Africa cooperate to combat climate change and terrorism, boost maritime security, and reform international institutions including the United Nations Security Council.

India’s doubling of its development assistance to Africa, comes as the South Asian country 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. But with China’s sluggish growth expected to continue in 2016, India is ready to cash in.

India-Africa forum, New Delhi, India
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Center-R-in white attire) and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (L-orange sari) pose with their counterparts from African countries during the Inaugural Session of the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, India, October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The aid would comprise $10 billion of concessional credit over the next five years, as well as $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 November 30 to compel rich nations to provide money and cheap technology to developing countries.