VENTURES AFRICA – Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil is visiting to South Africa, to strengthen the socio-economic ties between both countries. In a State of the Nation Address, South African President, Jacob Zuma revealed that the visit is part of South Africa’s desire to encourage Asian countries to invest in the country’s infrastructure development programme.
“We have once again extended an invitation to Indian business to invest in our infrastructure development programme, in which we are to invest more than R800 billion until 2014,” President Jacob Zuma said. This would translate into R300 billion in the energy sector and R262 billion in transport and logistics projects.
According to President Zuma, South Africa and India have maintained many years of unique relationship, including colonial oppression and racism. Apart from this, the President revealed that both countries also share deep social, economic and cultural ties.
Patil began her visit to South Africa yesterday and she is due to depart on 7 May.
South Africa bilateral trade with India has increased tremendously over the years. In 2011, the bilateral trade between the two countries stood at R53.7 billion with South Africa exporting goods to the value of R24.4 billion to India. The two countries have however set a bilateral trade target of R111 billion to be reached by 2014.
The itinerary of President Patil’s visit will include international issues, reform of financial institutions as well as areas of opportunities in the trade area. The Indian President revealed that her visit formed part of high-level exchanges to re-affirm India’s commitment to taking its relations with South Africa further.
“Our bilateral relations today are wide-ranging, multi-dimensional and mutually beneficial. Our shared and abiding commitment to the ideals of democracy has only reinforced our close and friendly ties,” she revealed.
“We felt that considerable opportunities need to be explored,” President Patil added.
The two countries plan to establish partnership in areas of health, science and technology and infrastructure, among others. Cooperation agreements have been signed on trade, investment, education, defence, Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The agreement signed between the two countries will be monitored by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nation and IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa).
At a business seminar held in India in March South African High Commissioner to India, Harris Majeke, revealed that both countries are also in the process of negotiating a preferential trade agreement that will accelerate trade flows and extend the range of traded goods. India until now has been able to use South Africa as a springboard for its economic growth while South Africa since its political liberation from apartheid has been able to partner with Indian companies like Tata, Mahindra Group, Ashok Leyland etc.