WINDHOEK: External affairs minister S Jaishankar, on his visit to Namibia, said that the re-introduction of cheetahs given by the country has been a milestone. He added that countries like India and Namibia
need to work together to cooperate on the global stage amid a ‘very challenging’ international situation created by factors like debt crises with high-interest rates and tense geopolitical situations.
His remarks came as Jaishankar, along with Namibia’s deputy Prime Minister and foreign minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, concluded the first India-Namibia Joint Commission meeting in Windhoek.
The external affairs minister, along with the Namibian deputy PM inaugurated the India-Namibia Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (INCEIT).
India and Namibia have agreed to work towards closer cooperation in the field of energy, including in oil and gas, green hydrogen, and solar with the two countries also looking at ways to expand bilateral trade.
He said the future of bilateral partnership is built on the ‘strong foundation’ of goodwill arising from the shared struggle for freedom. He said the two countries have seen growing development partnership, stronger capacity building, expanded trade and initial investments over the last three decades.
“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.”
Referring to the discussions, Jaishankar said there is a much clearer picture of the possibilities before the two countries. “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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
Jaishankar hoped Namibia would join India in the creation of the Big Cat Alliance. “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.”
He said 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.”
The minister said that the two sides also discussed food security and the prospects for expanding millet production and added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi
has personally led the mission to increase production and consumption of millets worldwide. “This can become a new focus area between us,” he said.
Jaishankar said 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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
Referring to health, he said preparations to receive the Bhabhatron cancer radiotherapy machine in Oshakati have progressed. “I look forward to its early realization.”
On defence, the minister said India has confirmed the continuance of the training team which is rendering such valuable service in Namibia. “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.”
The minister said there was a mutual interest in taking forward 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.”
He said the Joint Commission meeting will also further energize the strong cooperation 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,” he said.
Jaishankar arrived in Namibia on Sunday from South Africa where he took part in BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting. This is first visit by an Indian External Affairs Minister to Namibia.With agency inputs