External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that time has come for countries like India and Namibia to work together to cooperate on the global stage amid a "very challenging" international situation created by factors like debt crises with high-interest rates and tense geopolitical situations.
His remarks came as he along with Namibia's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah concluded the 1st India-Namibia Joint Commission meeting here in the Namibian capital.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed the roadmap of a growing bilateral partnership that covers the domains of energy, infrastructure, wildlife conservation, trade and Investment, food security, digital, capacity building, health, defence and arts, culture, heritage and people-to-people linkages.
"Pleased to conclude the 1st India-Namibia Joint Commission of cooperation and sign its minutes," Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting.
He said Namibia occupies a very special place in the hearts and minds of Indians.
"And that is because we supported Namibia's independence and we were very pleased to see Namibia take its rightful place in the comity of nations and become a proud upholder of international order," he said in his opening remarks at the meeting.
"So, as you celebrate 33 years of your independence, I must tell you that we share your pride and we applaud your progress, your success and we take equal satisfaction," he added.
He said as the two nations meet, they cannot be oblivious to the world and the challenges that the international order is facing in different respects.
He said these challenges impact the lives of our people, and the Global South has been a particular victim, of what has been happening in the world for the last 3 or 4 years.
"The health, economic and social challenges posed by the post-pandemic combined with the debt crises with high-interest rates, tensed geopolitical situations, besides the ecological, economic and social costs of climate change. I think these have all combined today to really create a very challenging international situation," he said.
"So this is a time, of course for countries like us to work together, to think together, to cooperate on the international stage," he said, adding that is best done by forging a strong bilateral partnership.
He expressed hope that the Joint Commission would live up to that responsibility, and would become a platform for ideas, innovations, for exchanges of skills and technologies.
"And we will see in a range of areas like pharmaceuticals and health; green and clean energy; because we too are increasingly getting involved in green hydrogen; in the digital era," he said.
And this process of high-level visits and constant dialogue, which is backed up by a platform, will surely help the two nations to navigate our partnership, bettered in times to come, the minister said.
"Our ties are forged in our developmental cooperation, in our capacity-building programmes and in our political solidarity. And it is important, that together we grow, develop and prosper," Jaishankar said.
"Our cooperation in recent years has particularly seen a pick up on the economic side, there has been a very significant increase in trade, your visit ( Nandi-Ndaitwah's) to India last July, I think was very important in energising our ties, three important agreements were signed," he said.
The immediate and tangible outcome of that visit was the trans-location of cheetahs from Namibia to India, he said.
"This, in fact, is a very big step, because it is the first programme for the re-introduction of a large carnivore anywhere in the world. So it has wildlife and environmental implications, but it also has a direct contribution to make to the growth of tourism. And I certainly hope that our cooperation in these areas will continue to grow," Jaishankar said.
Another area where the two nations have a strong partnership is in the regional, in the global arena, and the commonalities of interest, beliefs and outlook, that underpins the bilateral relations also applies to the wider global stage, he said.
"And we both work for the prosperity and wellbeing of the people. India is a proud partner of Namibia in your developmental journey and I would like today to underline that in areas like energy, infrastructure, transport, tourism, health care, digital delivery, creation of capacities and defence etc," he said.
The two nations would be very happy to explore more ideas and come up with more projects, Jaishankar said.
He said a number of Indian companies, almost 400 are operating in Namibia.
"And we certainly again would like to see stronger investments by India, more collaborations, a stronger skills partnership, because what we would like to see (inaudible) are really businesses in which your participation is equally strong as our contribution," he said.
"Which is why I am very pleased today that two very important business leaders from India, naturally dealing in oil and gas, and with infrastructure development, road and rail, are with us today, and their presence I think, is an indication of our serious business interest," the minister said.
"I want to tell you that is also our belief and I think this should be our shared motto to build the India-Namibia relationship," he added.
Jaishankar said he was very confident that "our partnership today is entering a new era" and he looked forward to working with Deputy Prime Minister on this.
Jaishankar also participated in the inauguration of the India-Namibia Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (INCEIT) in Windhoek.
"This Centre is a notable contribution to our partnering with Digital Africa. It is in line with Namibian priorities and will contribute to research, innovation cyber security and good governance," Jaishankar tweeted.
"Confident that Namibia's youth will also use it as a platform to demonstrate their talent and creativity The PARAM Super Computer installed here, aptly named ARUB (Cheetah), is an affirmation of the time-tested India-Namibia partnership," he said in his remarks at the inauguration.
The centre is an outcome of the development cooperation and capacity-building partnership between India and Namibia and it is being pursued in line with our shared desire to develop human resources, especially of the youth and give them the right skills in the technology domain, he said.
It reflects the long-standing people-to-people friendship and linkages, Jaishankar said.
"With the objective of developing industry-oriented programmes to address skills requirements in areas such as Cyber Security, Big Data Analytics and E-Governance applications and software development, the Centre, I believe, has been able to offer courses and train, as I heard, more than 275 professionals, government officials from various Ministries, students, teachers, and researchers," he said.
The courses that the Centre is offering are truly vital for Namibia in building a knowledge society and this has to be done on the foundations of innovation and technology which will emerge from here, he said.
"So the point I want to make today is that there's, apart from the skills, the research, the awareness, the creativity, which this centre would create. It is actually going to be increasingly central to good governance," the minister said.
"The unique feature of this Centre...is that it is powered by the PARAM Super Computer, and I think you have rightly named it ARUB, and I must tell you the Cheetah today is the new symbol of our partnership," he said.
"And in fact, I have in my delegation a particular senior official who has negotiated this and who's come back here to report to the President that the Cheetahs are doing well, and we looking after all Namibians, including Cheetah, very very well in India," Jaishankar said.
He said the centre is the latest in India's strong partnership with Africa which particularly targets the Gen Next in Africa and India.
India believes that the best partnership is to develop human capital and institutions that equip and empower a nation to pursue growth as per its own priorities, he said.
He praised Indian diamond businesses from Gujarat active in Namibia for advancing India's economic interests and building real friendships.
"Good to see Indian diamond businesses from Gujarat active in Namibia. They are advancing our economic interests while building real friendships. The Namibian Government is appreciative of their contribution to the local economy," Jaishankar said.
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