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Media Briefing by Secretary (ER) on Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa (July 20, 2018)

July 21, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namaskar, good morning friends and welcome to this special briefing on Prime Minister’s visit to three countries Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa from 23 – 27 July, 2018. To do the briefing I have with me Secretary (ER) Shri. T S Tirumurti. I also have Jt. Secretary (East and South Africa) and after the briefing we will have some time for question and answer.

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: Distinguished members of the media, my dear friends, I would like to welcome you all to a briefing on the three nation visit by our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa.

Prime Minister will be in Rwanda on 23-24 July 2018, Uganda on 24-25 July and South Africa from 25th to 27th July 2018. Prime Minister will be accompanied by an official delegation. A large business delegation from India is also expected to be present during the visit.

The visit of the Prime Minister to these three countries is a reflection of the intensity of our engagement with Africa and the priority we attach to our relations with African countries.

Our engagement with Africa has clearly intensified over the last four years. You would recall that we had received more than forty Heads of State and Government at the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015 and several more Heads of State and Government during the International Solar Alliance Founding Conference in March this year in New Delhi.

We have also had an unprecedented 23 outgoing visits to Africa in the last four years at Hon’ble President, Hon’ble Vice-President and Prime Minister level. Prime Minister himself has visited six African countries and will now visit 3 more. Under our Africa Outreach initiative, we have had visits to all African countries at Ministerial level.

As regards Rwanda, this is a historic visit since it will be the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Rwanda. Rwanda is an important gateway to Eastern Africa and we have elevated our bilateral relations with Rwanda to the level of a strategic partnership in January 2017.

It may be recalled that President Kagame visited Delhi in Jan 2017 to participate in the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017 and later in March 2018 to participate in the Founding Conference of International Solar Alliance (ISA). Rwanda has signed and ratified the Framework Agreement of International Solar Alliance.

Recently this month, we have had the visit of President of the Senate of Rwanda. During his visit an MoU on parliamentary cooperation was concluded. This is the first MoU signed by the Rajya Sabha.

Several Ministerial Visits have also taken place for advancing and strengthening multi-sectoral cooperation between the two countries. India will be opening our Mission in Rwanda very soon.

It is worth mentioning that the President of Rwanda is the current Chair of African Union. He had been chosen earlier to lead the African Reform Process in 2016.

You may recall that Rwanda hosted the Assembly of the African Union in March 2018 in Kigali where the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA) establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area was signed. 44 members of the African Union signed the Agreement. When ratified, the Agreement would be the largest Free Trade Area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

Rwanda is the third largest troop contributor for peacekeeping in Africa and plays an important role in the UN Mission (MINUSCA) in the Central African Republic.

Rwanda has also been a recipient of our Lines of Credit of nearly $400 million and of our training and scholarship programs. Solar electrification of 35 schools in Rural Rwanda was completed in 2014 under a grant from Government of India. A Vocational Training Institute was also set up in Kigali under our assistance. During this visit, we expect to conclude two LoCs – one of US$ 100 million for development of industrial parks and Kigali SEZ and another for US$ 100 million for agriculture and irrigation.

As regards the program during the visit, PM will be received by President Paul Kagame and a ceremonial welcome will be accorded on arrival. Other elements of the program include: restricted and delegation level talks, banquet dinner hosted by President of Rwanda, paying homage at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, an interaction with the Business Forum and a brief interaction with the Indian community.

An important element of the program would be the visit to Rweru model village for gifting of 200 cows as a contribution from India to the Girinka scheme of Rwanda. Girinka is a social protection scheme of the Rwandan Government personally overseen by President Paul Kagame. The poorest families are gifted dairy cows by the Government and the first female calf born of the cow is gifted to the neighbor, thus promoting brotherhood and solidarity in the community.

We expect agreements to be concluded in the areas of defense, dairy cooperation, leather, agriculture and culture.

As regards Uganda, the Prime Minister will proceed to Uganda on 24 July. This is the first bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Uganda since 1997, after 21 years. Our Vice President visited Uganda last year in February 2017.

Prime Minister had visited Uganda in 2007 in his capacity as Chief Minister of Gujarat. Since taking over as Prime Minister, he has met President Museveni several times with last one being on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Summit in London in April 2018.

President Museveni has visited India twice on State Visits and once on an official visit in October 2015 to attend the third IAFS as well as four times in his personal and private capacity.

Uganda is currently the Chair of East African Community. It was under Ugandan Chairmanship that the EAC Summit was held last year. It may be recalled that the CII-EXIM Bank regional East Africa Business Conclave was held in Kampala in Nov. 2017.

Prime Minister of Uganda had visited India in March 2017 to attend CII-EXIM Bank Conclave where Uganda was a guest country.

Hon’ble Vice President of Uganda had also visited India in March 2018.

There are over 30,000 Indians / PIOs in Uganda. President Museveni is credited with inviting many among the Indian community to return to the country assuring them of their safety and security. He has also been hosting the Indian community for Deepawali dinners in the State House.

Training and capacity building have been the focus of bilateral defense cooperation. India has an Indian Military Training Team (IMTT) stationed at Jinja since 2010.

In Uganda, the elements of the program will include call on the President, restricted and delegation level talks, banquet lunch hosted by the President of Uganda and India-Uganda Joint Business Event. Prime Minister will address the Ugandan Parliament. This will be the first time that an Indian Prime Minister will address the Ugandan Parliament. His address will be telecast live in India and in many African countries. PM will also address the Indian community where President Museveni is also expected to attend.

We expect to extend two lines of credit (for the first time to Uganda) of US$ 141 million for electricity lines and sub-stations and US$ 64 million for agriculture and dairy production.

As regards South Africa, on 25 July, Prime Minister would proceed to South Africa. The visit to South Africa is mainly in the context of the BRICS Summit. Apart from participating in the BRICS Summit, Prime Minister will have a bilateral meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa. This will be the first visit by the PM to South Africa after new administration led by President Ramaphosa assumed office in February 2018.

The year 2018 is a very significant year in that it marks the 125th anniversary of the Pietermaritzburg incident of Mahatma Gandhi and 100th birth anniversary of Nelson Mandela. You will recall that External Affairs Minister had visited South Africa last month to, inter alia, commemorate this historical event.

South Africa is organizing 10th BRICS Leaders’ Summit under the theme "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration with Developing Countries for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4thIndustrial Revolution”.

Prime Minister will participate along with other BRICS Leaders in the following sessions:

  • Restricted Session
  • Plenary Session
  • Leaders’ Retreat
  • Outreach with Leaders from Africa
  • Outreach with Leaders from Global South
In addition, South Africa has invited the following Leaders to participate in the Summit:

  • In the BRICS Africa Outreach, those invited include Rwanda, Uganda, Togo, Zambia, Namibia, Senegal, Gabon, Ethiopia, Angola, and the African Union Chair;
  • In the BRICS Plus Outreach, the invited countries of the Global South include Argentina, Turkey, Indonesia, Jamaica and Egypt. The UN Secretary General has also been invited.
As regards the issues before the 10th BRICS Summit, they broadly include the following:

  • BRICS in Africa, particularly inclusive growth
  • Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • Multilateralism, Global Governance
  • Health and vaccines
  • Socio-economic empowerment of women
  • Peacekeeping
  • Network of Science Parks &Technology
  • Inclusive growth
  • Sustainable development
  • Infrastructure
  • Youth, and
  • Cooperation/ Coordination at multilateral fora.
BRICS Leaders are expected to discuss, inter alia, global hot-spot issues, international peace and security, global governance, trade issues etc. during the restricted session. BRICS NSA’s Meeting Report will also be presented to Leaders in this session.

In the Plenary Session, Leaders are expected to discuss the fourth Industrial Revolution, its opportunities and challenges. Being countries with huge youth populations, cooperation in the area of education, labour, industrialization etc. would be of considerable benefit for all BRICS countries.

Leaders will also have an opportunity to interact with BRICS Business Council representatives. BRICS Business Council Report will be presented to the Leaders in this Session. The NDB President will also report to BRICS Leaders to brief on the year’s proceedings.

This is the 10th BRICS Summit. For the first time, a BRICS Leaders’ Retreat is being organized on this occasion wherein BRICS Leaders will deliberate and take stock of BRICS cooperation during the decade and on its future prospects.

In the outreach segment, various African Countries have been invited under the theme "BRICS in Africa”. This will give us opportunity to share our developments experience with our African partners.

As I mentioned earlier, chairs of multilateral groupings such as Argentina (G20 Chair & MERCOSUR member), Indonesia (Co-Chair, New Africa-Asia Strategic Partnership & an ASEAN member), Egypt (G77 Chair), Jamaica (CARICOM Chair), Turkey (OIC Chair); and the UN Secretary-General have been invited to interact with BRICS countries, on inclusive growth and the prosperity of global south.

Prime Minister is also expected to meet some Leaders bilaterally on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit.

As you are all aware, India attaches importance to its engagement with BRICS, which has emerged as a valuable forum for consultation, coordination and cooperation on contemporary global issues of mutual interest and has helped promote mutual understanding.

During our BRICS Chairmanship in 2016, India introduced the idea of people centrality and round the year engagement in BRICS.

India, had, besides the meetings at political level, introduced people to people engagement in BRICS by organizing BRICS games, youth summit, films festival, traditional medicines, disaster management, women Parliamentarians’ meeting, and many such events all around our country.

We are happy to note that these ideas have been taken forward by successive BRICS Chairs.

This concludes my remarks and I will be happy to take some questions.

Question: Two small questions. One you mentioned that the Prime Minister is going to meet some leaders, there will be bilaterals. Will these bilaterals include a bilateral with the Chinese President and the idea of BRICS rating agency, will it be taken during this BRICS Summit in South Africa?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: At this point we don’t have a fix on bilaterals and with what country. Definitely the matter of BRICS rating agency will be discussed during this BRICS Summit and what will be out of that, we will have to leave it to the leaders to decide.

Question: You mentioned about global hotspot issue, what does it mean and whether you are going to refer to any hotspot near us?

Question: This is in reference with what you said about Rwanda, there is supposed to be a defense cooperation agreement. Could you elaborate on that?

Question: We have actually already got a strategic partnership with Rwanda, so the question is how far you really expect to take the defense pact and on the same issue Prime Minister will reach may be a few hours after President Xi Jinping takes off from Rwanda. Is that a sense in what we are seeing in Rwanda a competitive altruism between the two countries?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: I think on the hotspots, this is not really for me to comment what issues they will discuss. They also have, for example, a retreat as well, so there will be a range of issues discussed but you have also seen the outcome of the discussion of the Foreign Ministers of BRICS where some of these issues were touched upon. So I am sure those issues plus any other issues which the leaders decide to take up will be discussed.

As far as defense cooperation with Rwanda is concerned, once again this will be a very broad defense framework agreement. You know the bilateral security and defense engagement with many of the countries in Africa has in fact been stepped up in the last four years but let me also underline the fact that our defense cooperation with African countries have been very close in the last several decades, it is not a new thing.

You may recall that one of the first training institutes established by India in Africa was in Ethiopia in 1958 and you also know that we have very close relations with defense forces of many of the African countries. Many of their defense chiefs for example were trained in India and also we have defense cooperation agreements with almost all the lateral states of the Indian Ocean.

So therefore when you are looking at India as one of the largest UN peace keeping forces in Africa and we have training with many of their forces and we have joint exercises with others and also keeping in mind Prime Minister’s own SAGAR doctrine on maritime security I think it is natural that we are looking to enhance our engagement on security and defense cooperation with the countries in Africa. And this defense cooperation we see in that context of enhancing our defense engagement particularly with a strategic partner like Rwanda.

And that brings me to the next question, yes we have the strategic partnership which we signed in 2017 and I don’t see it necessarily only in the context of defense cooperation agreement but strategic partnership is a much much broader concept which includes security aspect but it also includes a range of other things and we certainly see Rwanda as an extremely important partner in Africa because apart from being the Chair of African Union right now but they have also been, in many ways, gateway to Eastern Africa.

Rwanda itself is taking very progressive steps in economic sphere. When you look at Ease of Doing Business for example, they are ranked very high in this context and there are also many areas of synergy which we see with Rwanda. I think that is the context in which we see the strategic partnership.

Question: ………….. Inaudible…………….

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: No, I didn’t say defense cooperation is a gateway, I said Rwanda is a gateway. Defense cooperation is a framework agreement and I think there are a few aspects under it which we will be looking at Rwanda. At this point of time we are fleshing out the details.

As regards to China, I don’t think we see ourselves in a competition with China in Africa at all. Our relations with African countries goes back very very long way, goes back history, goes back to Mahatma Gandhi, goes back to Apartheid and now it is on very solid foundation of development cooperation and security and other cooperation which is enlarging. So I don’t think we look at relations with African countries through the perspective of relations with another country.

Question: In the past, BRICS Summit used to have separate meetings of RIC, has that practice been stopped or is there going to be one RIC meeting of the three leaders, number one. At one point of time there were a lot of countries that were interested in joining BRICS. Is there any plan for expansion for this group and which are the countries which want to join?

Question: I didn’t get the name of the social protection scheme which you said is personally supervised by the President of Rwanda. I want to understand more about what our contribution would be to this scheme?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: At this point of time I don’t think a RIC meeting is being contemplated during this summit. But it is something which is evolving and at this point I don’t think it is contemplated.

As far as expansion I don’t think there is an expansion, per se, which is being contemplated of BRICS but as you know we have a very robust outreach program and this time it includes not only the African countries but it also includes the global south.

The social security program is called Girinka and it had been initiated in 2006 by President of Rwanda Paul Kagame. It came out because he had seen a large number of children under five years who were malnourished and I think he felt that he needs an initiative in the context of the National Social Protection Program and his target for this year is to cover about 3,50,000 families.

So in this context our contribution would be to give about, at this point initially, 200 cows and this is primarily focused on giving each family one cow and this apart from other revenue that it gets, but the first calf is presented to the neighbor and that is how this scheme gets promoted at the same time in a country like Rwanda, it also promotes brotherhood and solidarity.

This has been one of the very successful initiatives which the President of Rwanda has taken and we felt that since this had President Paul Kagame very personal type of involvement, that we should also get involved in this. Prime Minister is actually travelling specifically to go there and present from our side as well.

Question: …. Inaudible ……….

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: At this point of time we are buying local cows, this is how we would contribute presently at this time.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you sir. On Girinka program we have a one pager which we will share with you. Thank you sir for the briefing, thank you Neena and thank you all for joining.

(Concludes)

 

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