- Aug 24, 2002
India is offering West African nations up to $1bn (£581m) towards power or infrastructure projects in exchange for oil exploration rights and supplies. Senior Indian oil ministry official Talmiz Ahmad said India would invest in everything from railways to ports and even computer networks.
India, which imports 70% of its oil needs, sees West African nations such as Nigeria as key long-term suppliers.
The African states will in turn benefit from vital infrastructure investment.
"India has decided to offer lines of credit up to $1bn on a government to government basis to these countries for infrastructure projects in exchange of oil exploration rights," said Mr Ahmad.
"West Africa is a long-term investment destination for India."
A recent $6bn infrastructure deal agreed in Nigeria by ONGC Mittal Energy, a joint venture between India's state-run ONGC and Mittal, the world's largest steel firm, is seen as one of the first examples of India's new approach in West Africa.
In addition to Nigeria, other West African countries being targeted by India include Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
"The ONGC deal is just the beginning of India's entry into West African oil exploration," said Mr Ahmed.
ONGC has already carried out similar infrastructure deals in Sudan, where it built a $259m pipeline in exchange for exploration rights in the Greater Nile oil region.
"This project [the Sudan deal] is probably the best example of what ONGC can do if it is given an opportunity in any country," said ONGC chairman and managing director Subir Raha.