Honorable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Relations and Cooperation,
I take great satisfaction at this first visit by an Indian External Affairs Minister to Namibia. That too, to co-chair the first meeting of our Joint Commission. I thank my Namibian counterpart for her warm welcome, generous hospitality and the productive discussions. I had the honour to call on H.E. President Hage Geingob and value the guidance he gave for further development of our ties.
The future of our partnership is built on the firm foundation of the immense goodwill arising from the shared struggle for freedom. In the last three decades, this has taken the form of a growing development partnership, stronger capacity building, expanded trade and initial investments. A prominent example is that of the India-Namibia Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (INCEIT) that the Deputy Prime Minister and I had the pleasure to formally inaugurate today along with the Minister of Higher Education. Our cooperation has also been expressed in domains ranging from health, education and electrification. Today, our objective is to take this to a much higher level and that indeed has been the objective of the Joint Commission.
As the results of our discussions today, I certainly leave with a much clearer picture of the possibilities before us. This includes:
(i) Closer cooperation in the field of energy, including in oil and gas, green hydrogen, and solar. Indian companies have by now established themselves at a global level and emerged as major investors, knowledge partners, technology providers and business collaborators.
(ii) Infrastructure development, especially with regard to railways, roads, ports, electricity transmission and water usage. Even in Africa, there are already significant projects delivered by us in these domains. I hope that this record encourages the emergence of new partnerships between us in these areas.
(iii) Our collaboration in wildlife relocation and conservation is also very significant. The re-introduction of Cheetahs in India that were given by Namibia is truly a milestone, creating the basis for other initiatives. We hope that Namibia would join us in the creation of the Big Cat Alliance. Such cooperation also has a major impact on the promotion of eco-tourism.
(iv) Trade and Investment have shown encouraging trends but obviously, can grow much further and much faster. We agreed to promote Namibia as an investment destination in India. We believe that this has regional and perhaps even, continental implications. Our industry, whose representatives I met separately, also take pride in imparting skills to their Namibian partners. This is particularly so with respect to the diamond industry. We believe that Indian scale, quality and cost has the potential to meet the needs of consumers here, particularly in pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
(v) We also discussed food security and the prospects for expanding millet production. 2023 is the UN International Year of Millets. Prime Minister Modi has personally led the mission to increase production and consumption of millets worldwide. This can become a new focus area between us.
(vi) One of the major achievements in recent years in India has been the digital delivery of public goods. We also have made significant advances in fintech. Cooperation here holds real benefits. I am glad to learn that there have been discussions pertaining to the UPI platform. Other facets also need greater exploration.
(vii) Our history of capacity building and training exchanges needs to be upgraded. India is prepared to offer customized courses in areas of specific interest to Namibia. I know that education is one such priority. We have also agreed on taking the Entrepreneurial Development Centre proposal forward and working together to advance Namibia’s diplomatic academy.
(viii) With regard to health, I was glad to note that preparations to receive the Bhabhatron cancer radiotherapy machine in Oshakati have progressed. I look forward to its early realization.
(ix) On defence, India has confirmed the continuance of the training team which is rendering such valuable service here. Let me add that India is now an increasing exporter of defence products and services and I am confident that there will be interest on the Namibian side in this. Regarding forensics, we have agreed to provide equipment for the use of the Namibian authorities.
(x) Finally, there was a mutual interest in taking forward our cooperation in arts, culture, heritage and people to people contacts. We have an expectation that this will take the shape of a systemic plan of action, that I hope our officials will sit and discuss together.
Once again, Honorable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, let me reiterate that this has been a very successful Joint Commission and very successful visit. It would also further energize the strong cooperation we have on regional and global forums, including the United Nations and Commonwealth. India values Namibia’s contributions in our AU interaction, as indeed in mechanisms like SACU. Our shared goal is to ensure that the India-Namibia partnership realizes its full potential and I believe, this visit today, our talks today, have been a significant step in that direction.
Thank You very much.