Indian High Commissioner to Namibia Kumar Tahin says the visit to India in 2009 by former president Hifikepunye Pohamba was a significant event in the two countries’ bilateral ties, because a host of memorandum of understandings (MoUs) and agreements were signed, such as the MoU on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
He says the signing of a multiplicity of noteworthy MoUs during that visit underscored the importance and the value attached by both sides to the existing bilateral ties.
During that August/September 2008 visit the former president and his Indian counterpart had signed MoUs and agreements on Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, an MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Geology and Mineral Resources, an MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Defence and an MoU on the Waiver of Visas for Diplomatic and Official Passports.
Several announcements were also made, among them an extension of the line of credit by India of US$100 million to be used in projects and supplies of products from India. India at the time also extended grants-in-aid to the tune of US$10 million for the education and health sectors.
There was also a grant of over US$12 million for the establishment of the faculties of mining engineering and information technology at UNAM (Ongwediva campus).
At the time the Asian country also increased the number of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) slots from 55 to 110 and the number of scholarships for bachelors, masters and doctoral programmes from 7 to 15.
“Most of these agreements/announcements have been successfully implemented, while implementation of some is in the pipeline,” the high commissioner said.
The agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy provides for India and Namibia to cooperate with due regard to the principles of international law, and in accordance with the principles governing their respective nuclear policies, as well as with their respective international obligations.
Cooperation envisaged under this agreement includes diverse activities, such as basic and applied research into peaceful uses of nuclear energy, development and use of nuclear energy applications in the fields of agriculture, healthcare, industry, environment, as well as exploration and mining of natural resources.
On the bilateral trade volumes, Tahin conceded they were “small,” but have been steadily increasing over the years.
The principal commodities of export from India to Namibia are pharmaceuticals, inorganic/organic/agro-chemicals, glass/glassware, plastic and linoleum products, manufactures of metals, machine tools, machinery and instrument and transport equipment.
The principal commodities of import from Namibia to India are non-ferrous metals, ores, transport equipment, machinery except electrical and electronics. Some products from both India and Namibia are imported through third countries and do not get reflected in the bilateral trade figures.
Major Indian investments in Namibia include an investment by Vedanta Resources in Skorpion Zinc Mine and by the GPT Group of Companies in a Tsumeb-based joint venture for producing concrete railway sleepers, Tahin noted.
The cumulative value of these investments exceeds N$5 billion, while the persons employed in these companies in Namibia are almost entirely Namibian.
“India and Namibia are working to identify the constraining factors and address these, since both countries realise that enhanced trade and commercial ties provide ballast to overall relations. The meetings of the Joint Trade Committee, the mechanism to discuss all trade-related issues, are held as per requirement and at a mutually convenient date,” said the Indian high commissioner.
“The new government in India has launched a “Make in India” programme, designed to transform India into a global manufacturing hub. Similarly, under Namibia’s Vision 2030 a framework for transforming Namibia into a developed country by the year 2030 has been put in place.
“These and similar policies of the two countries provide a new impetus for effective cooperation, including in the area of manufacturing. India has always been and will continue to be ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with Namibia to build capacity here and assist through various development partnership measures,” he concluded.