India moots $100m line of credit

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India has promised to give Zimbabwe $100 million in lines of credit following a visit by the Asian country’s Commerce minister Anand Sharma. The loans are aimed at improving health infrastructure and reviving the textile sector.

Sharma made the pledges early this week during separate briefings with Finance minister Tendai Biti and Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube.

According to a Press statement from Sharma’s ministry, another Indian delegation is expected in Harare next week to further discuss the proposed lines of credit.

“A team from India will be visiting Harare next week to discuss the proposal for LOC of $100 million for strengthening of health infrastructure,” Sharma said in a Press statement.

“India would assist Zimbabwe in reducing its infrastructural deficit. Indian public sector utilities like Ircon, Rites and Wapcos, which had earlier also executed infrastructure projects in Zimbabwe could participate in executing fresh projects,” he added.

During his meeting with Ncube, Sharma said his country would provide skills training and also help in the development of textiles sector.

“The project aims at women empowerment through skill enhancement and appropriate marketing through leading Indian brands like Fab-India,” he said.

The sector is struggling to recover from the decade-long economic crisis that battered the country.

The setback led to a loss of jobs after company closures.

At its peak, Zimbabwe had one of most viable textile industries and was one of the leading cotton producers in the continent.

The statement said India’s National Institute of Design (NID) is undertaking a project for training and exposure to craftswomen of rural Africa to empower them through design intervention in basketry, as part of the India-Africa Forum Summit Action Plan.

The $1 million initiative will cover five African countries over a period of three years.

The project is expected to be launched in Zimbabwe in February and a team from NID will visit the country to identify 25 craftswomen, who will later be trained in India, in collaboration with New Basket Workshop Foundation, an African NGO.

The project is part of the India-Africa Forum Summit Action Plan adopted at the second India-Africa Summit held in Addis Ababa in May 2011.
According to the Press statement, a joint trade committee meeting is planned within the next six months.

India also plans setting up a rural technology park and a food testing laboratory in the country.

A delegation of 24 Indian companies was in the country to explore investment opportunities and both countries have ratified the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement to aid co-operation.