New Delhi, Oct 26 (IANS) Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu will embark on a week-long three-nation tour of Africa from October 31 that will see him visiting Botswana, Zimbabwe and Malawi, it was announced on Friday.
The visit comes amidst India’s increasing engagements with Africa with as many as 26 visits at the level of President, Vice President and Prime Minister being made to Africa in the last four years.
Briefing the media here, T.S. Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, said Naidu will first visit Botswana from October 31 to November 2.
“Our ties with Botswana have diversified in terms of defence cooperation, trade and capacity building,” Tirumurti said.
Bilateral trade between India and Botswana stands at $1.75 billion. Botswana has also some of the world’s largest diamond mines.
Besides meeting Botswana Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, Naidu will also call on President Mokgweetsi Masisi and the Speaker of the National Assembly.
Along with Tsogwane, Naidu will also jointly inaugurate the Botswana Expo in which a large number of Indian companies will take part. Naidu will also interact with members of the Indian community in Botswana.
Naidu will then visit Zimbabwe from November 2 to 4 in what will be the first high-level visit from India to that country in 21 years. “Our ties with Zimbabwe have been close and cordial,” Tirumurti said.
He said that during the visit, India will extend a $3 million line of credit for the expansion of the Hwange thermal power plant.
Apart from holding meetings with the country’s leadership, the Vice President will also meet members of the 9,000-strong Zimbabweans of Indian origin.
A number of agreements across various sectors are expected to be signed between India and Zimbabwe.
Naidu will be in Malawi on November 4 and 5 on the last leg of his tour.
Malawi is home to around 8,500 people of Indian origin and 2,500 Indian nationals. India-Malawi bilateral trade stands at $260 million.
Apart from meeting the Malawi leadership, Naidu will inaugurate a Jaipur Foot distribution camp. India will also extend a $215 million line of credit for 18 water projects in that country.
The Vice President will be accompanied by Minister of State for Social Justice Krishna Pal Gurjar and four MPs.