By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Namibia and India are set to identify certain sectors where both countries could cooperate and collaborate further. Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Anard Sharma who was in the country last week for the Consultative Conference of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) told New Era that his country has in the past decade recorded great success in different fields. The two countries can collaborate in such fields as food and agriculture, health, education, trade, industry, finance and investment, as well as in human resource development in order to improve the standards of living of their peoples. The two countries’ relationship is built on a solid political foundation of the past. Sharma recalled: “Last time I was here (17 years ago) I experienced the tension of conflict in Oshakati and since then Namibia as a country has moved forward. It was solidarity for a cause, a continuation of Mahatma Gandhi’s belief – the right for people to live in freedom.” With the achievements made so far by India, the External Affairs Minister added that the SADC forum of which Namibia is a member has served as a platform that could identify needy areas of the two countries and the region. In the area of agriculture, Namibia just like most countries in the region depends on subsistence farming. India, according to Sharma, can assist the country to become self-reliant in agriculture. India is self-sufficient in feeding its growing population and has also managed to have surplus grain food that could be exported. “India is ready to go a step further in making this region self-reliant in food production by sharing its expertise in the agriculture sector,” he stated. Health is another area where India can render her expertise. The HIV/Aids pandemic, malaria and tuberculosis remain a major concern in the country. With the Indian pharmaceutical industry growing at such a fast pace, Sharma says Namibia and the region as a whole need to be conscious about medicines and their affordable prices. Considering that human resources remain a key to the development of any country, the minister says his country has been involved in training African candidates in diverse fields under its ITEC programme. Considering that the Namibian Government has been encouraging young people to be innovative and engage themselves in Small and Medium business activities to reduce the unemployment rate, this is another area that India is interested in cooperating with Namibia. Being a global leader in Information Technology (I.T), the country is prepared to build partnerships in this important sector with Namibia. The relationship between Namibia and India has grown appreciatively and “we want to expand economic relations”. However, the bi-lateral trade relations between the two nations are still in their infancy stage though potential is visible. So far, India exports consumer items, textiles and automobiles such as TATA to Namibia.
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