India and Botswana on Thursday decided to expedite work on establishing the India-Africa Diamond Institute in the southern African country as the two nations also agreed to enhance cooperation in defence and security.
This was stated by Secretary (Economic Relations) T S Tirumurti after a meeting between Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and his Botswanian counterpart Slumber Tsogwane, and delegation-level talks between the two countries here.
This is a bilateral initiative to contribute to skills development in the diamond industry in Africa, Tirumurti said.
Botswana is recognised worldwide for producing some of Africa’s most sparkling diamonds.
“Botswana had sent a delegation to India. The Surat-based Indian Diamond Institute is the nodal institute. Of the around 20 diamond companies operating in Botswana, eight to 10 are Indian companies engaged in polishing and cutting. That is the type of expertise Botswana wants,” Tirumurti said.
Both leaders referred to the close defence cooperation between the two countries from 1978 to 2012 when Indian Army and Air Force training teams were stationed in Botswana, he said.
“We have also agreed to enhance cooperation in defence and security sectors,” Trimurti said.
“Tsogwane warmly recalled India’s contribution to the freedom struggle of many southern African nations, including Botswana,” he said.
Botswana appreciated the assistance given by India in capacity building, particularly under ITEC, he said.
The Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) is a fully-funded programme run by the Indian government with the goal of encouraging cooperation and partnership among developing countries, for mutual benefit.
Naidu also expressed India’s willingness to enhance ITEC slots to more than the 140 currently being extended to Botswana, he said.
During his meeting with the Botswana vice president, Naidu referred to the stable democratic environment which Botswana provides and appreciated its important role in the context of Southern African Development Community (SADC), Tirumurti said.
Both the countries agreed to further develop and diversify trade and economic engagement, he said. Botswana expressed keenness to have Indian companies, particularly the private sector, invest in Botswana, he added.
“Many Indian companies are already present in Botswana including three Indian banks,” he said. Both sides also agreed to enhance cooperation in areas like copper mining, he added.
The two sides also decided to enhance cooperation in a range of areas including agricultural, IT, energy, health, capacity building and judicial cooperation, he said.
Botswana also announced its decision to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) framework for building and enhancing capacity of solar rich countries to develop solar technologies, he said.
“This is a very significant development and was welcomed by our side. We also expressed our happiness over Botswana’s continuous support in multilateral fora, reflecting the enduring spirit of friendship between the two countries,” he said.
“Both sides strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as a global menace. The various dimensions of counter terrorism steps, including terror financing were discussed. The Botswana side indicated the various laws enacted to counter terrorism, money laundering, trafficking and cyber crime,” he said.
India and Botswana agreed that the UN Security Council needs to be reformed to make it more representative in response to the geopolitical realities of the 21st century, he said.
After a request from Botswana for India’s support in tele-medicine, the Indian side conveyed the decision of the government to extend e-learning and e-health project to all countries in Africa, Tirumurti said.
Naidu spoke of India’s strength in traditional medicine, particularly Ayurveda and Yoga and offered to extend cooperation in these important areas, he said.
The vice president will be addressing and interacting with members of the Indian community in Botswana on Thursday evening. “This is a community of over 7,000 whose contribution to Botswana’s development has been deeply appreciated,” Tirumurti said.
Naidu, who is on a tour to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Malawi, will on Friday meet prominent CEOs of Indian and Botswana companies and visit the Diamond Trading Centre.
After the meeting between Naidu and Tsogwane, a communique was signed by Krishan Pal Gurjar, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment and R Shamukuni, Acting Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana.