ONE VOICE

Nigeria 2017 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

Hon. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, on the shared history and future of India and Africa.

Hon. Narendra Modi
BIOGRAPHY
Hon. Narendra Modi grew up in Vadnagar, India. He entered politics as a youth and quickly rose through the ranks of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist political party. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014, and is the Member of Parliament for Varanasi. He was elected the 14th prime minister of India in 2014.

The dreams of one-third of humanity have come together and the heart beat of 1.25 billion Indians and 1.25 billion Africans are in rhythm.

We are among the world's oldest civilizations. We are each a vibrant mosaic of languages, religions, and cultures. Our histories have crossed paths over the ages. Once united by geography, we are now linked by the Indian Ocean. The currents of the mighty ocean have nurtured the ties of kinship, commerce, and culture through the centuries.

Generations of Indians and Africans have traveled to each other's land in search of their destiny or by the force of circumstance, enriching one other and strengthening our ties. We have lived in the long shadow of colonialism and have fought for our liberty and dignity. We have struggled for opportunity, but also for justice, which African wisdom describes as the prime condition of humanity. We have spoken with one voice in the world and have formed a partnership for prosperity among ourselves. We have stood together under blue helmets to keep the peace. And, we have fought together against hunger and disease.
As we look to the future, there is something precious that unites us: our youth. Two-thirds of Indians and two-thirds of Africans are under the age of 35. And, if the future belongs to the youth, then this century is ours to shape.

We are all familiar with Africa's ancient achievements and its more recent strides are catching the word's attention. The continent is more settled and stable and nations are coming together to take responsibility for their development, peace, and security. African struggles and sacrifices are upholding democracy, combating extremism, and empowering women. Today, women constitute around 20% of the elected members of parliaments in Africa.

Africa's economic growth has gathered momentum and diversified its base. African initiatives are replacing old fault lines with new bridges of regional economic integration. We see many successful examples of economic reforms, infrastructural development, and sustainable use of resources, turning adrift economies into dynamic ones.

400,000 new businesses were registered in Africa in 2013, and mobile connectivity now reaches 95% of the population in many places. Africa is pushing mainstream global innovation in mobile banking with M-Pesa, in healthcare with MedAfrica, or agriculture with AgriManagr and Kilimo Salama. All are using mobile and digital technologies to transform their lives.

Primary school enrollment in Africa now exceeds 90%. Across its magnificent landscape, Africa is setting standards in wildlife conservation and eco-tourism as well as entertaining the world with its sports, art, and music.

Africa, like the rest of the developing world, has its development challenges and like others has its own security and stability concerns, especially regarding terrorism and extremism. But I have confidence in African leadership and the African people to rise to these challenges.

For the past six decades, our independent journeys have been in parallel. Now India's development priorities and Africa's vision for its future are aligned. In less than a decade, our trade has more than doubled to over USD70 billion, and India is now a major source of business investments in Africa. Today, 34 African countries enjoy duty-free access to the Indian market.

African resources are powering our industries and African prosperity offers a growing market for Indian products. India has committed USD7.4 billion in concessional credit and USD1.2 billion in grants since the first India-Africa Summit in 2008. It is creating 100 capacity building institutions and developing infrastructure, public transport, clean energy, irrigation, agriculture, and manufacturing capacity across Africa. In the last three years alone, nearly 25,000 young Africans have been trained and educated in India.

As the great Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka insisted, “human entity remains the primary asset in overall development." Our approach is based on the same belief that the best partnership is one that develops human capital and institutions.

To add strength to our partnership, India will offer concessional credit of USD10 billion over the next five years. This will be in addition to our ongoing credit program. We will also offer a grant assistance of USD600 million, which will include an India-Africa Development Fund of USD100 million and an India-Africa Health Fund of USD10 million. It will also include 50,000 scholarships to study in India over the next five years. And, it will support the expansion of the Pan Africa E-Network and institutions of skills, training, and learning across Africa.

If this century is going to be one in which all humans have a life of opportunity, equality, and dignity, and the planet a place in which we stand in peace and live in balance with nature, then India and Africa must rise together. This is not a new journey, nor a new beginning, but a new promise of a great future for an ancient relationship.