Cotonou (Benin), Jul 29: Continuing its outreach to Africa, India on Monday reiterated its commitment to support Benin's growth and development and announced a fresh Line of Credit worth US $ 100 million for developmental projects in the West African nation.
President Ram Nath Kovind who reached Benin and began his official visit on Monday as part of his three-nation tour to West Africa led delegation level talks between the two sides. Speaking on the occasion, he said that Benin and India share warm and friendly ties.
India is keen to strengthen economic partnership with Benin. He was happy to note that India has emerged as the largest trading partner of Benin with two-way trade crossing US$ 800 million. Around 100 Indian or Indian-owned companies are operating in Benin. More Indian companies are interested to enter the Benin market especially in mining. India seeks Benin’s support to help them grow their business, the President noted.
The President said that India is committed to support Benin’s growth and development. He was happy to note that implementation of the US$ 42.6 million Line of Credit for upgradation of water supply schemes in 103 villages in Benin, is proceeding well.
Mr. Kovind also announced extension of e-visa facility to Benin. He expressed confidence that this facility will give a major boost to India-Benin business relations. India also offered to extend free tele-education courses to 15,000 Beninese students and tele-medicine courses to 1000 doctors and paramedics in Africa. In addition, the two sides discussed defence and security cooperation and India offered further training assistance to Benin to expand its anti-piracy capacity, according to a Rashtrapati Bhawan press release.
The President, accompanied by a high-level official delegation, reached Cotonou, Benin on Sunday on the first leg of his state visits to three West African nations – Benin, Gambia and Guinea. This visit is the first-ever visit of Head of State of India to each of the three countries.
On Monday, President Kovind commenced his engagements with visit to the Presidential Palace of the Marina in Cotonou where he was received by his counterpart, Mr Patrice Talon and accorded a ceremonial welcome.
During the subsequent one-to-one discussions with President Talon, the President said that it is indeed a great honour for him to pay the first-ever State Visit from India to Benin. He thanked President Talon for his gracious welcome and hospitality.
President Kovind is also scheduled to address the National Assembly of Benin in Porto Novo. He will also attend a banquet hosted in his honour by the President of Benin. (UNI)