Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Commerce & Industry
20-September-2011 10:40 IST
Scindia offers Assistance for Strengthening Botswana Rail Network calls for Diversification and Deepening of Trade Ties
The Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Mr. Jyotiraditya M. Scindia stressed the need to diversify trade between India and Botswana. He is on a visit to Botswana accompanied by a business delegation. During his bilateral meeting with Lt. Gen. Mompati S. Merafhe Vice President Republic of Botswana late last night, he observed that the current level of bilateral trade of US$ 64 million between the two countries needs diversification and deepening. The present trade commodity basket is dominated by a few commodities like semi precious stones and drugs & pharmaceuticals. Mr. Scindia offered technical assistance to Botswana in the strengthening of rail network and other transport logistics, given its importance to Botswana which has huge natural reserves but is a land locked country. Indian companies such as RITES, IRCON had earlier also provided technical consultancy services to Botswana.

During his meeting with the Vice, Shri Scindia remembered the historical commonality between India and Botswana in struggle against Colonialism, and Apartheid and the fact that India-Botswana relations go back to many centuries. Vice president Lt Gen. Mompati S. Merafhe appreciated setting up of the India Africa Diamond institute in Botswana which will lead to the capacity development and transfer of skills to the diamond industry of Botswana. He also acknowledged the significant contribution made by the 12000 strong Indian diaspora. Recognizing India's success in implementing various poverty eradication programs like MNREGA, Vice president stressed that his Government was also in the process for formulating similar programs for Botswana.

During his visit, Mr. Scindia also had bilateral meetings with Mr. Mokgweetsi E Masisi, minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration ( also the acting minister for Foreign affairs and International Cooperation). Mr. Masisi sought cooperation of India in IT & communication, particularly e-services. Mr. Scindia while sharing about the unique inclusive developmental model India is following, mentioned about the mobile revolution in the country where the number of mobile phones in the country have gone up from nil in 1993 to 860 million today.

In his bilateral meeting with Mr. Vincent Seretse, Assistant minister of Trade and Industry, he mentioned that India is committed to transforming its special engagement with Botswana into an enduring long-term partnership within the Framework of India-Botswana relations as well as other regional/international fora. Indian private sector entrepreneurs have made investments in Africa in excess of US $ 33 billion in a wide range of sectors, ranging from Telecom, Automobiles, IT, Pharmaceuticals and Agriculture. However, there is immense scope to take the present levels of trade and investment between India and Africa to new heights. The proposed ‘India-Africa Business Council’ would lead to enhanced partnerships. He stressed that India would like to play an important role in meeting the objectives of National Development Plans of Botswana which are geared towards diversification of the economy. Potential areas for cooperation between India and Botswana are Agriculture, Medium and small scale industries, ITES, education and Health care.

Mr. Scindia and Mr. Seretse jointly addressed the business conference "‘India-Botswana: Opportunities in Trade & Investment’ organized by Confederation of Indian Industries and BEDIA, the export development and investment promotion authority of Botswana.

India established diplomatic relations with Botswana immediately after independence of Botswana in 1966 and opened its diplomatic mission in Gaborone in 1987. Both countries have pursued prudent economic and political policies and have been cooperating within the framework of India’s cooperative relations with Southern African Development Community, World Trade Organization, Southern Africa Customs Union as well as many international organizations.

The 1st India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in 2008, and the 2nd Summit, recently held in May, 2011 at Addis Ababa, designed a new architecture for a structured engagement, interaction and cooperation between India and Africa in the 21st century. At the 2011 Summit, our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, made several announcements, including the availability of $ 5bn Lines of Credit; more than 22,000 scholarships and an additional US $ 700 mn to establish new institutions and training programmes in consultation with the African Union and its institutions.

The high level delegation which accompanied the Vice-President of India, Hon’ble Shri M. Hamid Ansari in Jan 2010 explored possibilities for investments, joint ventures and export of goods and machinery etc. During the visit, Agreements on the Educational Exchange programme and Cooperation in the field of Agriculture were signed.

The Vice President of Botswana, His Honour Lt. Gen Mompati S. Merfhe visited India in June 2010 accompanied by a high level Ministerial/Business delegation. During the visit, agreements on Cooperation in the fields of MSME/SMME sector, Science and Technology and MOUs between the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) of India and Local Enterprises Authority (LEA) of Botswana were signed.