India and Namibia co-chaired the inaugural session of the Joint Commission of Cooperation (JCC) to strengthen their bilateral relationship and enhance cooperation in various sectors. The Indian side was led by External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar, while the Namibian side was represented by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah. This historic event marks a new chapter in the relationship between the two nations, with a focus on building long-standing political goodwill, expanding development partnerships, and promoting mutual interests.
Background: India-Namibia Relations
India and Namibia share a unique bond that dates back to their respective independence struggles. India has always supported Namibia’s quest for independence, and the two nations have maintained cordial and fraternal relations since then. Over the years, the ties have evolved, encompassing various aspects such as trade and investment, capacity building, health, and education.
Namibia holds a special place in the hearts of Indians as the two countries have shared a long-standing political goodwill. The mutual support during their independence struggles has paved the way for a strong and enduring relationship. The leaders of both countries have been actively engaged in fostering closer ties and addressing common challenges on regional and global levels.
Trade and investment between India and Namibia have experienced steady growth over the years. Indian businesses, particularly those in the diamond industry, have contributed significantly to the local economy in Namibia. The Namibian government has acknowledged and appreciated the role of these businesses in fostering economic development and building real friendships.
India and Namibia have embarked on several development projects to promote mutual growth and prosperity. This includes capacity building, infrastructure development, and the promotion of science and technology. The India-Namibia Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (INCEIT) in Windhoek, inaugurated by both Ministers, is a prime example of their growing development partnership.
Key Areas of Cooperation
The inaugural session of the JCC focused on enhancing cooperation in various sectors, including energy, green hydrogen, transport and connectivity, digital, pharmaceuticals, science and technology, and culture. Some other significant areas of collaboration include wildlife conservation, eco-tourism, food security, and capacity building.
Energy and Green Hydrogen
Both countries discussed the potential for strengthening ties in the energy sector, particularly in green hydrogen production. India and Namibia can leverage their respective strengths to develop clean energy solutions, reduce carbon emissions, and promote sustainable development.
Transport and Connectivity
Enhancing transport and connectivity between India and Namibia is crucial for boosting trade, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges. Both nations have expressed their commitment to improving infrastructure, such as railways, roads, ports, and aviation, to facilitate smoother movement of goods and passengers.
Digital and Pharmaceutical Collaboration
India and Namibia have identified digital technology and pharmaceuticals as priority sectors for cooperation. They aim to collaborate in research, innovation, cyber security, and good governance to promote digital transformation and improve healthcare services in both countries.
Food Security and Capacity Building
Addressing food security is a common concern for India and Namibia. The JCC explored potential partnerships in agriculture, particularly in promoting the production and consumption of millets worldwide. Capacity building initiatives, especially in education, health, and electrification, were also highlighted during the meeting.
Science, Technology, and Culture
Strengthening cooperation in science and technology is key to addressing common challenges and promoting innovation. The Ministers discussed potential collaboration in research, development, and technology transfer in various fields. Additionally, they recognized the importance of cultural exchanges and people-to-people linkages in fostering mutual understanding and appreciation
Wildlife Conservation and Eco-Tourism
India and Namibia share a mutual interest in wildlife conservation and eco-tourism. The reintroduction of cheetahs in India, gifted by Namibia, is a milestone achievement that has paved the way for further collaboration in this area. Both countries expressed their hope for Namibia to join India in creating the Big Cat alliance, fostering greater cooperation in wildlife diplomacy.
Indian Diaspora in Namibia
The Indian diaspora in Namibia plays an essential role in strengthening the ties between the two countries. Dr. S Jaishankar met with the Indian community in Windhoek, where he discussed the shared history, new expressions of friendship, and the progress of India and its impact on Indians living abroad.
Regional and Global Perspectives
India and Namibia have similar perspectives on regional and global issues, which drive their collaboration in international forums. Both countries aim to work together in organizations such as the United Nations and the Commonwealth, addressing common challenges and promoting global peace and security.
The first Joint Commission of Cooperation has set the stage for further strengthening the India-Namibia partnership in various domains. The roadmap outlined during the meeting will guide their collaboration in energy, infrastructure, wildlife conservation, trade and investment, food security, digital technology, capacity building, health, defense, arts, culture, heritage, and people-to-people linkages.
As the relationship between India and Namibia continues to flourish, both nations will benefit from the shared experiences, knowledge, and resources. The Joint Commission of Cooperation has reaffirmed the commitment of both countries to deepening their partnership and working together towards a better future for their people.