India will open 18 new embassies across Africa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Ugandan parliament Wednesday.
In the first speech to Ugandan lawmakers by a sitting Indian leader, Modi also announced loans worth $200 million for infrastructure and environmental projects and thanked Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for welcoming back Ugandan Asians who were expelled during the reign of Idi Amin in the 1970s.
"Your visionary leadership has enabled Ugandan people of Indian origin to return to their cherished home, regain their lives and help rebuild the nation that they deeply love," Modi said.
The Indian leader's three-nation African tour is seen as a sign New Delhi wants greater influence on the continent that has been aggressively pursued by its regional rival, China.
While Modi did not specify where the embassies will be built, it will bring to 47 the number of full Indian diplomatic missions in Africa. China has 50.
Before the stop in Uganda, Modi visited Rwanda, where he symbolically donated 200 cows to poor families and oversaw Indian loans to Kigali.
Later Wednesday, he flew to South Africa for a meeting of the world's emerging economies.
He will join the leaders of other BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa — for a summit.