Indian President Pranab Mukherjee will be in Namibia to discuss bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest between the two countries. Mukherjee will be here on invitation from President Hage Geingob. With India trying to boost its relations with African countries, Mukherjee will spend six days on the continent visiting Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia. He will arrive in Namibia on Wednesday. “President Shri Pranab Mukherjee will be on a State visit to the Republic of Namibia from June 15 to 17, 2016, at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Namibia, His Excellency Dr Hage Gottfried Geingob. This visit by an Indian President to Namibia will be the first at the highest level in over two decades. The visit, apart from consolidating bilateral interaction, will carry forward the momentum generated in India-Africa ties post – IAFS-III,” according to a statement on the website of India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
Mukherjee will also address a joint session of Parliament of Namibia, an India-Namibia Business event, and the Namibian University of Science and Technology. He will be accompanied by a Minister of State, four Members of Parliament, senior officials, business and media delegations. “India and Namibia enjoys longstanding, excellent and time-tested ties that predate Namibia’s independence. Over 1000 Namibians have trained in India under the ITEC program. Several Indian experts from government and private sector have been involved with policy formulation in the country since its independence,” said the statement. It further noted that: “The volume of trade, at present, between the two countries is small. However, there is tremendous potential to further enhance trade and economic ties.” Last year Geingob was among 54 African presidents invited to attend the 2015 edition of the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS).
The IAFS summit was convened to celebrate celebrate the close partnership between Africa and India. The summit addressed global issues, like climate change, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms and international terrorism, health issues and skills development, keeping in mind the young population and the ocean-related economy of both India and Africa. The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) led the business component of the Namibian delegation that saw several local firms attending the event. During last year’s visit to India, Geingob during a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on the Indian Government to negotiate with companies mining uranium in Namibia to buy such uranium from them. The Namibian and Indian governments signed a cooperation agreement in 2009 to explore mineral resources, including gold, diamond and uranium. Through the agreement that Namibia and India have signed on uranium, there is no possibility for India to buy uranium directly from the Namibian Government since the mineral is mined by private companies.
With India’s uranium industry set to reach the US$150 million mark by 2035, the Indian market presents a lucrative market for Namibia. Uranium contributes less than 20 percent to the country’ gross domestic product(GDP), this is mainly due to the fact that it is controlled by foreign entities. Modi at the time said India will work towards putting mechanisms in place to pursue such options. “India is keen to promote clean energy and due to this, the country needs uranium. The challenge now is figuring out a mechanism for getting it, Modi reportedly said. Similar talks are also expected during Mukherjee’s visit. With India being one of the major global agricultural players, talks on best agricultural practices cannot be ruled out.