India ties up with UAE for Africa development projects

India ties up with UAE for Africa development projects

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj shakes hands with her UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan at India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting, in Abu Dhabi, on Tuesday. PTI

India will partner with the United Arab Emirates to take up development projects in Africa, where it has been jockeying for influence but finding it difficult to elbow out deep-pocket China.

India and the UAE on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding for development cooperation in Africa.

The MoU was signed after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, led the delegations of India and the UAE in the 12th session of the bilateral joint commission for economic and technical cooperation in Abu Dhabi.

India and the UAE also inked a currency swap agreement after Sushma's meeting with Sheikh Abdullah.

India-UAE development cooperation in Africa will see Abu Dhabi and New Delhi jointly working on projects to build infrastructure in the continent.

Beijing has been bankrolling a large number of infrastructure projects in several African countries as part of its Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI), thus building strategic assets across the continent.

The BRI of China, however, came under criticism for exposing the smaller participating nations to the risk of being caught in debt-traps.

India's development projects in Africa on the other hand are rather benign in nature and designed in accordance with the priorities and need of the local people, and governments and are funded in a transparent and sustainable manner.

Sources said that the US, Japan and several other countries had of late shown interest in partnering with India for development projects in Africa and the UAE was the latest to do so.

With nearly $50 billion bilateral trade, India and the UAE are one of the largest trade partners for each other and have made robust investments bilaterally.

The UAE is the sixth-largest source of India's oil imports and hosts a 3.3 million-strong community of Indians.

Sushma and the UAE foreign minister on Tuesday inaugurated a Gandhi-Zayed Digital Museum in Abu Dhabi to mark the celebrations of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth and centenary celebrations of the birth of Shaikh Zayed, founder of the modern UAE.