Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave on a five-day tour of four nations in Africa from July 7 – the latest in India’s efforts to plug the absence of high-level visits to the continent of 54 countries.
While these resource-rich countries are crucial for India’s plans to become a permanent member in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), most of them already benefit from huge Chinese financial assistance and investments.
Energy cooperation, food security, air service connectivity, defence manufacturing and diaspora engagements are among the key areas Modi will focus on when he visits Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya. The four-nation trip will conclude on July 11.
Both President Pranab Mukherjee and vice president Hamid Ansari went to Africa this year as part of efforts to address a long-held complaint from these nations – the near-total absence of high-level visits from India.
This is the first time in 34 years that an Indian Prime Minister would be visiting Mozambique, the third-biggest source of gas import after Qatar and Australia. The last such visit to Kenya happened 35 years ago, and to South Africa – home to 1.2 million people of Indian origin – about a decade ago.
“This is the first (state) visit by the Prime Minister to the African mainland. They are our maritime neighbours, gateways to our land-locked African countries. All these countries have a sizeable Indian diaspora,” said Amar Sinha, secretary (economic relations) in the external affairs ministry.
Apart from energy cooperation, the two countries will enter a pact for government-to-government purchase of pulses during Modi’s 12-hour visit to Mozambique on July 7. Pulses worth $5 billion will be bought from Mozambique under this agreement. The two countries are also applying the final touches to an arrangement that will involve Mozambican farmers being contracted to cultivate pulses with an assurance that India will buy their produce – besides helping them procure seeds and new farming technologies.
India, for its part, is keen on getting South African technology in deep mining, coal gasification and defence manufacturing. The two governments are also set to sign an air services agreement during the visit.
Modi will hold diaspora engagements in each of the four countries. The events at Johannesburg in South Africa and Nairobi in Kenya are expected to draw over 10,000 people each.
Matters related to UNSC expansion will also be discussed with all the four countries, Sinha said.