India tweaks line of credit plan for Africa

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India has announced specific solar energy projects in parts of Africa in consultation with local governments and is seeking to ensure effective implementation of its Line of Credit of $1billion offered at a time when China is striving to emerge as a partner for much of the developing world.
The initiative is part of the external affairs ministry’s efforts to finetune its earlier strategy of extending blanket LoC to African countries for implementing projects. The Modi government, at the International Solar Alliance meet in Delhi on March 11, extended the LoC specifically for 23 solar energy projects in 13 African countries. This was in contrast to the announcement by France, which made a blanket offer of 700 million euros (about $863 million) for solar projects.

The countries where India will be executing solar energy projects include some of its emerging partners in French speaking Western Africa – Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger, Togo, Guinea, besides Democratic Republic Congo in Central Africa and traditional partners Ghana and Nigeria. Some of these countries will house more than one solar project. Other countries where specific solar projects are being executed include Seychelles, Tanzania and Rwanda.

“India, unlike some other countries, does not impose or dictate projects. The projects are people-centric and identified in consultation with the host government,” said a person aware of the matter, drawing a contrast with the Chinese practice of charging high interest on the loans it offers.

The goal is to also produce solar panels in India for these projects at rates which at cheaper than those made in China, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The external affairs ministry has decided to handhold LoC funded projects in Africa and elsewhere to ensure effective implementation and that there is no pilferage of funds. Africa, where more than two dozen projects have been completed during the past two-and-a-half years, has been a success story of India’s support..

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