Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 18:31 UK

India and Africa investment deal

By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh surrounded by African leaders at the India-Africa summit
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wants to increase India's influence in Africa

Africa's top leaders have pushed for greater investment from India at the end of a two-day summit in Delhi.

Leaders from more than a dozen African countries said that food shortages and rising oil prices are leading to a major crisis in the continent.

India has pledged to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in Africa over the next five years, in return for greater access to its natural resources.

India is competing with China in securing lucrative contracts in Africa.

But many believe that it has lost a lot of ground to its regional rival.

Acting on pledges

African leaders have now agreed to appeal to the G8 countries to discuss this during their next summit, due to be held in July.

It was time, they said, that they were treated as equals by the rest of the world.

Africa should no longer be seen as a mere market for raw materials, they said, and if countries such as India acted on their pledges, the region could see greater economic growth.

Indian technology could help improve farm output, for instance, to help combat food insecurity.

And many of the delegates said they wanted to see more investment from some of India's leading private companies, such as global players Tata and Mittal.

Delhi is keen on increasing its influence in Africa to secure access to the region's rich natural resources, especially oil and gas.

But it has to fight off the challenge posed by China, whose trade with Africa is nearly double that of India.

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