Visits Visits

Transcript of Media Briefing by Secretary (ER) on upcoming Vice President visit to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Malawi (October 26, 2018)

October 29, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namaskar and good afternoon friends. Welcome to this special briefing on the visit of Hon’ble Vice President to three countries in Africa Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe from 31 October to 6 November. This is part of our continued enhanced engagement with Africa at the highest level. I am happy to inform you that we have with us Secretary (Economic Relations) Shri T S Tirumurti and Jt. Secretary (East & South Africa) Dr. Neena Malhotra who will do the briefing on the visit after Secretary (ER)’s introductory remarks we will have some time for the Q&A session. Sir, the floor is yours.

Secretary (Economic Relations), Shri T S Tirumurti: Friends, thank you very much for being here. The Hon’ble Vice President of India will be visiting three countries in Africa between 31st October and 6th November, namely Botswana, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising of Hon’ble Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, and 4 Members of Parliament in addition to senior officials.

You may be aware that over the last 4 years or more, there have been unprecedented 26 visits to African countries at the level of Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji, Hon’ble Vice-President and Prime Minister, apart from several Ministerial visits to Africa. This is in keeping with our considerably enhanced engagement with Africa. You will also recall the 10 principles outlined by Prime Minister for enhancing India’s engagement with Africa wherein he reiterated that Africa will be at the top of our priorities.

The first leg of the visit is to Botswana. The visit from India at this level is taking place after a gap of 8 years. You may recall that the President of Botswana, in his capacity as Vice-President, visited India in 2015 for IAFS-III.

India shares very close and friendly relations with Botswana. We had an Indian Army Training Team in Botswana from 1978 till 2012 and both of us had benefited from this very close relationship.

During the last few years, our relationship has diversified in a range of areas, including defense, trade, health, capacity building, etc.

Our trade relations have increased and in 2017-18, our bilateral trade with Botswana has registered an impressive growth of 26% taking it to US $ 1.75 billion.

Botswana houses some of the world’s largest diamond mines. India imports 26-27% of its total requirement of rough diamonds from Botswana.

We have the presence of some important Indian banks and companies in Botswana. Cooperation in health sector has also played an important role in strengthening our bilateral relationship. We extend 140 slots under our ITEC program.

Botswana is also the headquarters of the SADC Secretariat and plays an important role in the context of the South African countries.

Hon’ble Vice President will have one-on-one meeting with Botswana’s Vice-President followed by delegation-level talks. He will be calling on the President of Botswana. Hon’ble Vice-President is also scheduled to meet the Speaker of the National Assembly of Botswana.

Hon’ble Vice-President will also formally inaugurate the 13th Annual Global Expo of Botswana, 2018 along with the Vice-President of Botswana. This is the first time that 25 Indian companies and business houses are participating in the Expo showcasing India’s economic and industrial prowess.

He will meet the Indian Community which comprises approximately 7000 PIOs/ Indian nationals. It is worth underlining that the Indian community has been highly regarded in the Botswana society and, has been contributing to their development as professionals, teachers, accountants, etc. as well as in the areas of retail, manufacturing and construction.

The last day of the visit will include meeting with CEOs and a visit to the Botswana Diamond Trading Centre.

The next leg of the visit is to Zimbabwe. The high-level visit to Zimbabwe is taking place after a gap of 21 years, the last visit being that of Prime Minister Shri H.D. Deve Gowda in 1996. From Zimbabwe, President Mugabe had attended the IAFS-III in 2015. Ministerial contacts have, however, continued regularly over the years.

You are aware that in the General Election of July 2018, Mr. E.D. Mnangagwa was elected the President of Zimbabwe. Mr. E.D. Mnangagwa had visited New Delhi in January 2017 as the Vice-President of Zimbabwe.

India and Zimbabwe have a long history of close and cordial relations. We have been assisting Zimbabwe in a range of areas, including telecommunications, power sector, capacity building, etc.

An 8-member election observer’s team from India visited Zimbabwe during their recent elections, at their request.

Our development cooperation with Zimbabwe has been strong. We have set up the India-Zimbabwe Technology Centre in Harare with our assistance and will now be upgrading it as well. NSIC has also set up a Vocational Training Centre in Harare.

India has approved two Lines of Credit – one for upgradation of Deka Pumping Station and another for Renovation of the Bulawayo Thermal Plant. In another important development, we will also be taking up the upgradation of the Hwange Thermal Power Station for US $ 310 million Line of Credit. WAPCOS has been in the power sector since 2011 in Zimbabwe.

EXIM Bank Buyers Credit has also added another dimension, especially for supply of vehicles and mining equipment. India also has a strong presence in the pharma sector in Zimbabwe.

We now hope to take up the e-Arogya Bharati and e-Vidya Bharati program in all the countries of Africa, including in Zimbabwe.

With steps being taken to revive the economy of Zimbabwe, there is increasing interest from Indian investors in Zimbabwe. Many prominent Indian companies have a presence in that country.

Our capacity building programs have been very popular with Zimbabwe. In 2017-18, they had utilized 235 ITEC slots, 9 ICCR slots and 34 IAFS-III slots. The MoU between Harare Institute of Technology and 12 Indian Universities is going on successfully for the last 8 years or so. In 2018, 42 students from Zimbabwe were sponsored by the Govt. of Zimbabwe to study in Shimla University. We will also be deputing 5 experts to Zimbabwe.

In the recent years, we have had very close cooperation in the international arena. Zimbabwe has supported India’s candidatures, including in the recent ICJ elections in 2017.

An important dimension of India-Zimbabwe relations is the presence of around 9,000 Zimbabweans of Indian origin. They are highly respected, and have made important contribution in their respective spheres.

The program of the Hon’ble Vice-President includes call on President of Zimbabwe, tete-a-tete with the Vice-President of Zimbabwe followed by delegation-level talks and meetings with Foreign Minister and Hon’ble Speaker.

He will also address the Indian Community and address the India-Zimbabwe Business Forum. Hon’ble Vice-President will also do the ground breaking ceremony of the new Chancery building of India.

Several MoUs including in the areas of mining, ICT, culture, power, etc. are expected to be signed during the visit.

The last leg of the Hon’ble Vice-President’s visit is to Malawi. India shares close, warm and friendly relations with Malawi which is cemented by robust development partnership and the presence of a large Indian diaspora.

Over the last few years, there has been intensification of our engagement in various fields with Malawi and there have been a number of incoming Ministerial visits from Malawi. Malawi has signed and ratified the International Solar Alliance agreement.

Bilateral Trade between India and Malawi touched US $ 260 million. There are approximately 8,500 Indian diaspora and 2,500 Indian citizens are living in Malawi.

Many development partnership projects have been completed in Malawi including the Salima Sugar Factory, the Fuel Storage Tank, Dal Processing Plant, Cotton Ginnery, etc.

Malawi is also benefiting under ITEC and IAFS-III Training/ Scholarship Programs. We have 240 slots during the year 2017-18 for Malawi.

Vice-President’s official engagement in Malawi includes call on Hon’ble President of Malawi and he will also be meeting the Speaker. He will be meeting the Business Community as well as address the Indian Community.

Hon’ble Vice-President will also inaugurate the Jaipur Foot Camp during the visit. This Camp is being organized under the "India for Humanity” - a unique initiative launched recently on the occasion of 150th Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. India for Humanity will be a year-long event of Jaipur Foot Camps covering more than 18 countries.

Hon’ble Vice-President will be inaugurating a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in the Blantyre city and a plaque for the Business Incubation Centre. In fact, a road named after Mahatma Gandhi has been in existence in Blantyre since 1970s.

A line of credit of US $ 215 million is to be announced for 18 Water Projects spread all over Malawi. This will be an important step in our development partnership with Malawi.

During the visit, agreements on extradition, setting up of India Africa Institute of Agriculture & Rural Development, Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre and gifting of Bhabhatron Cancer Therapy Machine, etc. are envisaged.

So friends as you can see the Hon’ble Vice-President’s visit to Africa once again underlines the high priority Government accords to Africa and is in line with our effort to have a sustained and regular engagement with African countries.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you sir, I now open the floor to questions.

Question: Aapne bataya ki high level delegation jaa raha hai jismein ek mantri hain aur chaar MP hain, to chaar MP ke naam kya hain?

(You said a high level delegation will be accompanying the Vice President which includes a minister and four MPs. Could you please give the name of the MPs going with the delegation?)

Secretary (Economic Relations), Shri T S Tirumurti:We will convey it to you after the briefing. We have the names but we will convey it to you after confirming who are finally coming with the delegation.

Question: What kind of agreements are we expecting with Botswana?

Secretary (Economic Relations), Shri T S Tirumurti: With Botswana we are in the process of discussing few agreements at this point of time and they have not yet been finalized, it should be done in the next 2-3 days. That is the reason I am not announcing them at this time.

Question Contd.: Sir, please provide the break of visit date wise.

Secretary (Economic Relations), Shri T S Tirumurti: Botswana is between October 31 and November 2 and then Zimbabwe is between November 2 to November 4 and Malawi will be from 4 November to 5 November.

Question: Social Justice Minister is going, so anything important about social justice ministry?

Secretary (Economic Relations), Shri T S Tirumurti: It is usual practice of Hon’ble Ministers to accompany the Vice President during the visit and in this visit, it is a very substantive visit as you can see because we are going to three countries and re-engaging with them after a gap of several years and it is in this context that he has been selected to go with the Vice President but as such there is no agreement or such that we are signing on this particular topic. I have outlined the areas already I think that his presence will certainly strengthen the delegation which will go with the Vice President.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I don’t see any other question. So now this special press briefing is concluded. I thank you all for joining.

(Concludes)



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