New Delhi: Describing Mozambique as a crucial part of India’s foreign policy with its emphasis on Africa and the Indian Ocean region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday sought increased collaboration with the Indian Ocean littoral state in energy, agriculture and infrastructure.
In a statement to reporters after talks with visiting Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi, Modi noted that India was Nyusi’s first stop in Asia after he took office in January.
The Mozambican president is the second head of state or government from Africa to come calling in recent months. In June, India hosted Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete. The two visits come ahead of India hosting the third India-Africa Summit in October. The aim of the summit is to strengthen economic and strategic links between India and the African continent. The two previous summits were held in Delhi in 2008 and in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in 2011.
“The (Nyusi) visit is special because this is the 40th anniversary year of independence of Mozambique and the 40th anniversary year of the establishment of our diplomatic relations,” Modi said.
There are more than 20,000 people of Indian origin in Mozambique who act as link between the two countries and Indian investments in Mozambique amounted to a quarter of its investments in the African continent, Modi said.
“Africa and the Indian Ocean are among the highest priorities for our foreign policy. Mozambique is crucial for both,” Modi said.
Once in the forefront of the campaign against decolonization and Apartheid, India’s influence on the African continent began to wane thanks to its focus on refashioning ties with the West at the end of the Cold War.
In a first, India has invited all 54 African heads of state for the India-Africa summit that is to take place on 26-30 October in New Delhi. This is the largest gathering of foreign dignitaries in India since the non-aligned heads of state meeting in New Delhi in 1983.
Referring to bilateral ties, Modi said Mozambique “can be a large and a proximate source of natural gas, coal and other minerals that are so important to drive our growth. It also offers huge opportunities in agriculture sector.”
Navtej Sarna, secretary, west, in the ministry of external affairs, said economic cooperation took up a substantive portion of the discussions between Nyusi and Modi. The visiting president told Modi that “Indian companies were welcome to continue investment” and the Mozambican government would remove any obstacles in the way of investment.
In the agriculture sector, Mozambique is looking for partnerships with Indian companies, Sarna said. Some Indian companies were already invested in the agriculture sector, growing pulses in the country and exporting back to India.
Talking about the potential for cooperation in the energy sector, Sarna said the gas reserves in Mozambique were estimated to be around 200 trillion cubic feet while in terms of coal, Mozambique was estimated to have the second largest reserves after South Africa.
Major Indian energy companies including ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL) and Oil India Ltd. (OIL) have invested $8 billion in the energy sector, he said. India also had a presence in the railway sector with IRCON Ltd looking at linking five landlocked neighbours of Mozambique with its various ports.
India is also involved in development partnership cooperation with Mozambique and in recent years, has offered the country several lines of credit totalling more than $600 million, the external affairs ministry said on its website.