New Delhi : Signalling deepening engagement between India and Africa, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba will be here on a five-day trip Sunday – the first visit by a foreign head of state in the second term of the Manmohan Singh government.
The visit by Pohamba – his first to India – promises to be high on symbolism as well as substance. It’s not entirely a matter of coincidence that an African head of state will be the first to visit India after the ruling United Progressive Alliance was re-elected for a second term over three months ago.
In March, Benin President Boni Yayi was the first foreign head of state he met after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recovered from heart surgery.
The state visit is part of India’s “new outreach to Africa”, the external affairs ministry said here while announcing the visit.
The Namibian president will be accompanied by a 43-member delegation, including five ministers, senior officials, representatives of chambers of commerce and industry, businessmen and the media.
Prime Minister Manmohan will hold talks with Pohamba Monday on ways to expand political and economic ties between India and Namibia, one of the most stable and economically vibrant countries in Africa that will set up the world’s first mobile phone base station powered by wind and solar power soon.
They will also discuss a range of global issues, including the WTO talks, the UN reforms, terrorism and climate change.
Namibia has consistently supported India’s candidature for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council.
Several agreements and memoranda of understanding for institutionalising bilateral cooperation, including a pact on mining, are expected to be signed during the visit.
The two sides will ink a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will provide an umbrella framework for spurring Indian investment in the lucrative mining sector of Namibia. The cabinet, at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here Thursday, approved the signing of the MoU Thursday.
Symbolising new business synergy between India and the African continent, Pohamba will address India’s top businessmen at an interaction organised by the country’s apex business and industry bodies.
After talks in New Delhi, Pohamba will also go to India’s financial capital Mumbai, IT mecca Bangalore and tourism hub Agra.
India’s multi-faceted links with Namibia go back to the days of anti-colonial struggle when New Delhi supported the mineral-rich southern African country in its quest for independence.
The ongoing collaboration in development and infrastructure projects has infused fresh energy in the relationship between the two countries.
India has executed many projects in Namibia, including plastic demonstration centres, biogas units and solar power plants. New Delhi had gifted tractors and diesel engine pumps to the Namibian agriculture sector and 20 incubators to the Indira Gandhi Maternity Clinic in Namibia.
Namibia is also a beneficiary under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. Several Indian ITEC experts have been involved with policy formulation in the country since independence.