India's Modi, Zimbabwe's Mugabe press for UN reform
New Delhi // India and Africa must join forces to call for reform of the United Nations to reflect the growing power of emerging nations on the global stage, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday.
Addressing more than 40 African leaders at the India-Africa forum summit in New Delhi, Mr Modi said the UN and other global institutions “risked becoming irrelevant” if they did not adapt to a changing political and economic landscape.
India and Africa are together home to a third of the world’s population, but neither India nor any African country has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council – which is made up of China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and France.
The Indian premier said India and Africa should “speak in one voice” to seek “reforms of the United Nations”.
His comments were echoed by Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, who said:“We are saying that we demand equality ... We are saying, let’s amend the charter of the UN.”
Mr Modi shared Africa’s concern of security and stability, especially from terrorism and extremism. He said was confident in African leadership and people to rise to those challenges.
Several countries, including Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Benin, sought Indian assistance in dealing with extremism. They wanted India to help build their defence capacity so the combined military forces that are now fighting Boko Haram can be strengthened, said Sanjiv Kohli, an official from the Indian external affairs ministry.
India has promised to help train soldiers in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency tactics, Mr Kohli said.
Mr Modi also described India and Africa as bright spots of hope and economic opportunity and offered technology and credit to match rival China.
Mr Modi said in less than a decade India’s trade with Africa has topped US$70 billion (Dh257bn) and that the continent was a major destination for Indian business investment.
India has committed $7.4bn in concessional credit and $1.2bn in grants since the first India-Africa Summit in 2008. It is developing infrastructure, public transport, clean energy, irrigation, agriculture and manufacturing capacity across Africa.
In exchange, India hopes for a share of Africa’s vast natural resources to power its own growth. It also wants to ensure it is not completely overshadowed on the continent by China, which has plowed billions of dollars into Africa.
* Agence France-Presse and Associated Press