Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a five-day visit to Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya beginning July 7, with an aim to further deepen India’s engagement with the resource-rich African continent where China has been expanding its influence.
The Prime Minister’s visit comes within weeks after President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari travelled to Africa to strengthen and reinvigorate India’s ties. “The visit will provide opportunities to build on close contacts at the highest political level and enhance mutual cooperation and understanding on major issues of common interests,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
India’s current trade with Africa is around US $75 billion and it has granted a whopping US $7.4 billion for various developmental and capacity building projects in the past four years. India has implemented nearly 140 projects in 41 African countries during the period.
Modi’s first destination will be Mozambique where he will have bilateral discussions with President Nyusi on July 7 to expand existing cooperation. In the second leg of his tour from July 8 to 9, Modi will be in South Africa where he will have meetings with President Jacob Zuma and other senior leaders across the political spectrum.
The Prime Minister is also expected to visit Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg and Durban during the visit, Swarup said. India’s ties with South Africa is considered crucial and both countries work closely in various multilateral fora like BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa), tripartite grouping IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa), G-20 and BASIC, a bloc of four large countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China.
On July 10, the Prime Minister will have meetings with Tanzanian President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli on a range of areas with an aim to further enhance mutual cooperation and understanding on major issues of common interest, said Swarup. On the final leg of his trip, Modi will travel to Kenya where he will have bilateral discussions with President Kenyatta.
The Prime Minister will also address students in the University of Nairobi during the visit. “The visit of the Prime Minister to the African mainland reflects India’s desire to further strengthen and reinvigorate bilateral ties with our African partners,” said Swarup.
India had organised a four-day-long summit here with African countries in October last year which was attended by representatives of 54 African nations, including heads of state and government of around 40 countries.
Modi has already travelled more than 50 countries in two years as prime minister. As reported by India Today, these ‘excursions’ often included state visits and summits on five continents, including the visits to USA to attend the UN general assembly, following his neighborhood first and act east policies.
His foreign visits have often been a topic of intense social media scrutiny more after India’s failure to secure the NSG membership last month.