Ram Nath Kovind to visit West Africa this week seeking Atlantic outreach

India is seeking an outreach to the Atlantic Ocean as President Ram Nath Kovind plans to visit Benin and Gambia in West Africa beginning July 28 with development and security partnership topping the agenda. 


Kovind chose Africa on his maiden trip aboard in Modi 2.0 with Delhi keen to made inroads in the region where China has a significant presence. 


Both Benin and Gambia are located along Atlantic and key to India's strategic outreach in that region including fight against piracy. Fresh Lines of Credit (LoC) at concessional rates are expected to be announced during the visit, according to persons familiar with the issue. 



India and not China is largest trading partner for Benin which is India’s gateway to the landlocked Sub-Saharan region. A little-known facet of this partnership is the fact that Benin is also key partner for India in countering piracy in a part of Atlantic Ocean bordering Western Africa. Benin has availed number of LoCs since 2009 for development projects and India has granted support for Benin’s agriculture sector. 


Gambia, is among few Anglophone countries in Western Africa, with steady partnership with India. The Parliament complex in Gambia has been built by India as an iconic structure in region and several top Gambian officials have been trained in India. India has extended several LoC to Gambia in the past -- $ 6.7 million in 2006 for a Tractor Assembly Plant and $ 10 million for construction of National Assembly Building Complex. An additional LOC of $ 16.88 million was approved in 2012 to complete the National Assembly building. 


Current LoCs include $ 22.5 million water project and $ 22.5 million for Electricity Expansion Project. Gambia has also requested for debt re-structuring for completed and ongoing LoCs. Another Line of Credit of $ 92 million for expansion of Banjul Port also exists. India is going to construct a Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre in The Gambia under grant assistance as part of 20 nation project in Africa for such centres.