New Delhi: Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is set to arrive on a three-day India visit beginning August 20 at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind.
This will be Lungu’s first visit to India and also the first visit at the level of head of state from Africa since the Narendra Modi-led government took office for a second term in May.
The Zambian President will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including Minister for Foreign Affairs Joseph Malanji, Minister for Commerce, Trade and Industry, Christopher Yaluma, Minister for Mines and Mineral Development Richard Musukwa, Presidential Affairs Minister Freedom Sikazwe and senior government officials, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Apart from ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan and a visit to Rajghat the Zambian President is also scheduled to meet President and hold delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
President Kovind will host a banquet in honour of the visiting dignitary. The Zambian President will also participate in an India-Zambia Business Forum in New Delhi.
“The bilateral talks are expected to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations and expected to cover issues of bilateral, regional and international interest,” the statement said.
The discussion is likely to focus on cooperation in defence, security, geology and mineral resources, energy, health, education, infrastructure, culture, trade and investment-related issues. Capacity building continues to be an important aspect of our engagement with Zambia,” it added.
Kovind had paid a visit to Zambia in April last year.
“India-Zambia enjoy close and friendly bilateral relations. Our bilateral trade has grown steadily. In 2018-19, our bilateral trade was close to USD 830 million,” the statement said.
India primarily imports copper from Zambia, which is the second-largest producer of copper in Africa. Zambia is also beneficiary of India’s Duty-Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) scheme.
“India and Zambia defence cooperation include training and capacity building. Zambia has a large and vibrant Indian community of around 25,000 PIOs/NRIs that contributes to Zambian economy,” according to the statement.
With investments of over USD 5 billion, mostly in the mining sector, India is one of the largest investors in Zambia. India has provided considerable economic assistance to Zambia in the form of grants and credits.
The African nation also avails a large number of the ITEC, ICCR and IAFS scholarships.
“The visit is significant in the context of our Africa outreach policy. In the last five years, we have had 32 outgoing visits at the level of President, Vice President and PM and nearly 100 incoming visits of African Head of State/Head of Government,” the statement said.
“Our overall relations with Africa in defense, security, economic, trade and investment relations, development partnership and capacity building are at an all-time high. The state visit of President Lungu will provide an opportunity to further energise our mutually beneficial partnership with Zambia,” it further said.