Singh said our 'partnership is unique and owes its origins to history and our common struggle against colonialism' [AFP] 

India has intensified a push to strengthen its economic ties with Africa and emerge from the shadow of rival China's influence in the area by offering $5bn to help the continent, which is rich in minerals and commodities.

At an address to an India-Africa summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, India's prime minister trumpeted his country's historical ties with Africa in an attempt to catch up with Beijing's growing influence on the continent.

Speaking on Tuesday, Manmohan Singh said: "There is a new economic growth story emerging from Africa.

"Africa possesses all the prerequisites to become a major growth pole of the world.

"The India-Africa partnership is unique and owes its origins to history and our common struggle against colonialism, apartheid, poverty, disease, illiteracy and hunger."

Singh, who is on a six-day trip to the continent, which began on Monday, is pledging development support in exchange for trade agreements to fuel growth in India's resource-intensive economy.

"We will offer $5bn for the next three years under lines of credit to help Africa achieve its development goals," he said.

Singh said India would offer an additional $700m for new institutions and training programmes, and a further $300m for a new Ethiopia-Djibouti railway line.

He also pledged $2m to fund the African Union's peacekeeping force in Somalia.

Rival economies

Rival emerging economies India and China are scouring the globe to secure energy resources, minerals and food.

Delhi and Beijing are keen to stress to African nations that they are more than just trade partners and want to help the continent develop.

Both nations are also trying to extend their influence in Africa as they emerge as economic powers and appear keener to flex their diplomatic muscle.

India is not only trying to boost its presence in the continent but also trying to get African support for its bid for a permanent place on the UN Security Council.

Source: Agencies