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Modi pledges stronger ties with Africa

Indian Prime Minister Modi hailed Africa's economic potential and pledged 9 billion euros in credit to the continent. He was addressing delegates from over 50 countries attending the India-Africa summit in New Delhi.

"The dreams of a third of humanity have come together under one roof," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Thursday as he inaugurated the India-Africa Forum Summit in the capital New Delhi.

The Indian leader spelled out his vision for the future of his country's economic ties with Africa.

"We will raise the level of our support for your vision of a prosperous, integrated and united Africa that is a major partner of the world," Modi told the African leaders, which included presidents of South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt.

Modi promised $10 billion (9 billion euros) in new credit to the African Union, in addition to $7.4 billion in soft loans and $1.2 in aid that New Delhi has been providing since first India-Africa summit in 2008.

"India is now a major source of business investments in Africa," Modi said. "Today, 34 African countries enjoy duty-free access to the Indian market. African energy helps run the engine of the Indian economy; its resources are powering our industries; and, African prosperity offers growing markets for Indian products."

African delegates attend the Inaugural Session of the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, India, October 29, 2015 (Photo: REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Around 1,000 delegates from all 54 African Union member states are attending the summit

Competition with China

India's trade with African countries topped $70 billion last year, but was dwarfed by China's, whose annual trade with Africa is three times larger than India's.

Since coming to power last year,

Indian Prime Minister Modi has been seeking to increase India's investments in Africa

, which the premier said was more settled and stable, and "its initiatives are replacing old fault lines with new bridges of reforms and economic integration."

India aims to benefit from Africa's vast natural resources to power its economic growth triggered by an increasing middle-class. The South Asian country also wants to counter China's increasing presence on the continent.

Despite substantial economic growth in the recent years, India and Africa are home to seven in 10 of the world's poor.

Watch video 01:26

India hosts its largest-ever Africa summit

Biggest gathering

Around 1,000 delegates from all 54 African Union member states are participating in the summit. It is the largest overseas congregation of the African leaders ever.

The India-Africa summit was scheduled to take place in December, but was postponed over the Ebola crisis in Africa.

On Wednesday, Modi held talks with a record number of 19 African leaders, including Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, and President Muhammadu Buhari of oil-rich Nigeria. On Thursday, the Indian leader will meet with leaders of countries like Angola, Ethiopia and Egypt.

shs/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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