It’s a truly multi-dimensional relationship, encompassing business, energy (uranium), Bollywood and yoga. India-Namibia relations are special in many ways, and go back to the days of decolonization solidarity, with India in the forefront of the liberation struggle of Namibia.
Partnering in Freedom
In fact, India was among the first nations to raise the question of Namibian independence in the UN and was proactive in every international forum, especially the UN Committee on Decolonisation, and offered all possible moral, material and diplomatic support to the Namibian leadership in exile. The special relations are also underscored by establishment of the first SWAPO Embassy abroad in New Delhi in 1986. India’s then Prime Minister V.P. Singh participated in Namibia’s Independence Day celebrations in 1990, along with a high-profile delegation that included stalwarts like Atal Behari Vajpayee, K.R. Narayanan and the then Leader of the Opposition Rajiv Gandhi. Underlining ideological kinship and mutual goodwill, there have been a spate of high-level visits, including President Shanker Dayal Sharma (June 1995); Prime Minister A.B Vajpayee (in 1998). In a record of sorts, Dr. Sam Nujoma, President of Namibia, visited India 11 times in the past since 1983.
Since the establishment of formal diplomatic ties in 1990, the India-Namibia relations have been on an upswing. The visit of President Pohamba to India in 2009 was a milestone, leading to an acceleration of relations across the spectrum. The visit saw the two sides sign a slew of agreements, including a landmark agreement on cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. Other pacts included: MOU on Pan-African e-Network; MOU on Cooperation in the Field of Geology and Mineral Resources; MOU on defence cooperation; and MOU on Waiver of Visas for Diplomatic and Official Passports. Put together, this clutch of agreements form the foundation of dynamism in contemporary relations between India and Namibia.
Bolstered by political stability and growth prospects in Namibia, there has been a steady surge of investments by Indian companies in this African country, the world’s fifth-largest producer of uranium. Some of the major Indian investors in Namibia include Vedanta Resources of India, which acquired Skorpion Zinc Mine (Namibia) USD 707 million approx from Anglo-American Zinc. A Tsumeb-based joint venture, GPT-Trans Namibia Concrete Sleepers (Pty) between Indian GPT Group of Companies and Trans-Namib for producing 120000 concrete railway sleepers per year for local use, was inaugurated in September 2011. Indian GPT Group of Companies has invested around USD 2.68 million in Namibia. Jindal Steel and Power are planning investment of over USD 400 million in Namibia. Bilateral trade (as of 2014-15) was USD 142 million with India’s exports valued at USD 108 million, while India’s imports stood at USD 34 million.
Capacity building remains a key pillar of bilateral relations, which is reflected in the training of more than 1,000 Namibian candidates under the ITEC programme. For 2015-16, India has allotted 136 civilian ITEC slots and 12 defence slots to Namibia. Defence-related training has emerged as an important facet of India-Namibia cooperation. Two ITEC experts from the Indian Army are on deputation with the Namibian Ministry of Defence as Advisors in civil and ICT related works; and another ITEC expert has been on deputation to the Namibian Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM). An Indian Air Force Training Team, based in Namibia, has been providing training to Namibian Air Force for the last two decades.
India has granted USD 12.16 million to Namibia for the construction of Twin Faculties of Mining Engineering and Information Technology at University of Namibia’s North Campus.
The multi-faceted relations between India and Namibia, home to around 200 Indians including NRIs and PIOs in Namibia, are complemented by cultural bonding. A week-long Indian Film Festival titled “Bollywood Comes to Namibia” s held in Windhoek in February 2014 elicited an enthusiastic response. Yoga has a dedicated following in Namibia, which was reflected in hundreds of Namibians participating in the first International Yoga Day on June 21 2015, organized by the high commission of India, at the University of Namibia and at the Parliament Gardens.
Bilateral Trade: USD 142 million (as of 2014-15)
India’s exports: USD 108 million; India’s imports: USD 34 million.
Approximately around USD 1.5 billion
Key India-assisted Projects
India has allotted 136 civilian ITEC slots and 12 defence slots to Namibia. India granted USD 12.16 million to Namibia for Construction of Twin Faculties of Mining Engineering and Information Technology at University of Namibia’s North Campus.
Grants-in-aid worth US$10 million was announced during the visit of President Pohamba to India.
Diaspora: 200 Indians, including NRIs and PIOs in Namibia.
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