India and Namibia enjoy warm and cordial relations. India was at the forefront of the liberation struggle of Namibia and was indeed among the first nations to raise the question of Namibian independence in the UN. The first SWAPO Embassy abroad was established in New Delhi in 1986 which was closed after the liberation of Namibia in 1990. All Namibian leaders warmly recalled this. Diplomatic relations with independent Namibia were established right from the moment of its freedom, with the Indian Observer Mission being upgraded to a full-fledged High Commission on March 21 1990. Namibia opened a full-fledged resident Mission in New Delhi in March 1994.
The Namibian leadership views India as a dependable and trusted friend, to whom it turned to in times of need, which we have reciprocated fully. The strong bonds of friendship and warmth that existed between the two countries when Founding President of Namibia Dr Sam Nujoma led his country have continued during the times of his successor President Pohamba, and now with President Hage Geingob. The goodwill for India in Namibia was undiminished.
President Mr.Pranab Mukherjee paid a State Visit to Namibia from June 15-17, 2016 at the invitation of Dr. Hage G. Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia. President Mukherjee held a tete-a tete meeting with President Geingob, followed by official discussions between the two leaders on June 16, 2016, during which they exchanged views on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest. President Mukherjee addressed the Joint Session of Namibian Parliament on June 16, which was heralded by a brief meeting with Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia and Chairperson of the National Council. Founding President of Namibia Dr. Sam Nujoma and Former President Dr. Hifikepunye Pohamba also paid courtesy calls on the President of India. Two MOUs/agreements were signed during the visit: (i) MOU on the establishment of a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology in Namibia; and (ii) MOU between Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM) and Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
Dr. Hage G. Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, accompanied by the First Lady, visited India on October 28-29, 2015 to attend the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi. President Geingob met Prime Minister of India on October 29, 2015, and discussed bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest, including cooperation in mining and energy sectors.
Prof. Peter H. Katjavivi, Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, paid an official visit to India from 27-31 March 2017 at the invitation of the Hon’ble Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Smt. Sumitra Mahajan. Speaker Katjavivi was accompanied by several Members of Parliament and Parliamentary officials. Speaker Katjavivi met with his counterpart Mrs. Sumitra Mahajan and called on the President of India and the Vice-President of India during the visit.
Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Hon. Tjekero Tweya represented Namibia and SADC at the 9th edition of Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit held on 18-20 January 2019 at Gandhinagar. [Namibia is the current Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)]. Speaking at the inaugural plenary session on January 18 2019, Minister Tweya highlighted the strategic importance Namibia attached to its relations with India and invited the business community to explore investment opportunities available in Namibia in diverse sectors. He also participated in “Vibrant Gujarat: Africa Day” held on January 19, 2019, as part of the Summit to commemorate India’s relations with Africa.
Minister of Economic Planning and Director General of National Planning Commission Hon. Obeth Kandjoze visited India to participate in the CII-EXIM Bank Conclave held in Delhi from 17-19 March 2019.
Ms. Juliet Kavetua, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, visited New Delhi from 5-9 February 2019 to attend the Preparatory Meeting of the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment (2020-2022) organized by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
A delegation from the Election Commission of Namibia led by Chairperson, Adv. Notemba Tjipueja visited India from 12-17 February 2017. The visit took place under the Election Visitor Programme (EVP) of the Election Commission of India.
An Indian Navy ship, INS Tarkash, of the Western Fleet, made a port call at Walvis Bay from 15-18 June 2017. During the visit, the Commanding Officer of the ship, Capt. Rituraj Sahu paid courtesy calls on Namibian dignitaries and senior defence officers, including the Governor of the Erongo Region, Mayor of Walvis Bay and Commander Naval Operations of the Namibian Navy. The crew also interacted with the Namibian Navy personnel, including through participation in friendly sports activities. The ship was open for public visit on June 17, 2017.
A 4-member delegation led by Deputy Minister of Finance, Paulus N. Ithete attended the 52nd Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank at Gandhinagar on 22-26 May 2017.
Former President of Namibia, Dr. Hifikepunye Pohamba visited India in his capacity from 24-28 July 2017. During his visit, Dr. Pohamba also saw some of the Indian agricultural entities in Coimbatore, Chandigarh and Baddi to explore areas of cooperation with the University of Namibia.
Namibia deposited its accession document for the Framework Agreement of International Solar Alliance on June 25, 2018, and became a full member on July 25 2018.
An MOU between Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM) and Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) concerning Technical Cooperation in the Area of Capacity Building of Public Officials was signed in Windhoek on September 4 2018.
India’s continued commitment to capacity building through the ITEC (Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation) and other bilateral programmes in Namibia had been a solid pillar of cooperation, which was very much appreciated in Namibia. Under the ITEC programme, apart from a large number of Namibian candidates trained in India so far, several ITEC experts have also been deputed to Namibia.
A 10-member Namibian Defence Force (NDF) contingent participated in India-Africa Field Training Exercise (IAFTX) held in Pune from 18-27 March 2019.
President Hage Geingob sent a letter to the President of India conveying his condolences to the victims of Pulwama terror attack and expressed solidarity with India in the fight against terrorism. In a strongly-worded statement of support issued on February 19 2019, Deputy PM and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah expressed condolences to the victims and sympathies to those who injured in the terror attack. The statement stressed that Namibia joined India in its determination to resolutely fight against all forms of terrorism and to bring those responsible for the booking. Deputy PM Naditwah called on the international community to condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and those identified as terrorist organizations under international law.
Economic and Commercial
Bilateral trade and investments, though small, have been increasing over the years. Bilateral trade during 2017-18 was USD 106.06 million with India’s exports valued at USD 43.87 million, while India’s imports stood at USD 62.20 million. Indian products from South Africa are also re-imported into Namibia via the SACU route and shown as imports from South Africa. Similarly, Namibian rough diamonds arrive in India via London and Antwerp and do not get reflected in the bilateral trade figures.
There was a steady surge of investments by Indian companies in Namibia. Indian investments into Namibia include: (i) In May 2010, Vedanta Resources of India acquired Skorpion Zinc Mine (Namibia) for US$750 million from Anglo-American Zinc; and (ii) Indian GPT Group of Companies invested N$18.75 Million (US$2.68 million approx.) in 2010 in a joint venture with Trans Namibia for producing Concrete Sleepers. Recently, Indian companies Sterling & Wilson, Shapoorji Pallonji Group established their presence by opening representatives offices in Namibia.
India and Namibia established a Joint Trade Committee in 1995. The third session of India-Namibia Joint Trade Committee was held in New Delhi on September 7, 2016. The two delegations were led by Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, MOS(IC) for Commerce and Industry and Hon. Mr. Piet Van Der Walt, Deputy Minister of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development of Namibia, respectively.
The Joint Working Group (JWG) on geology and mineral resources met in New Delhi on May 21 2012.
GOI donated Rupees two crores (equivalent to Namibian dollars 3.364 million) to Namibia towards drought relief in August 2013. On earlier two occasions, donations of Rs. 1 crore each time, were given for the flood relief. India granted USD 12.16 million to Namibia for the construction of twin faculties of Mining Engineering and Information Technology at University of Namibia’s Ongwediva Campus, which was named as India Wing. The project was completed and handed over to the University in June 2014. Grants-in-aid worth US$10 million was announced during the visit of President Pohamba to India, under which India supplied IT equipment to Namibian Ministry of Health & Social Services.
During the visit of President of India to Namibia in June 2016, India announced increasing of ITEC slots, donation of 1000 tons of rice, 100 tons of medicines and US$ 20,000 to Indira Gandhi Clinic. The contribution of 1000 tons of rice for drought relief was handed over on March 6 2018. The donation of 100 tons of essential medicines was made over the next three years. The cash grant of US$ 20,000 for the Indira Gandhi Maternity Clinic in Okahao, established by Dr Sam Nujoma Foundation, was handed over by the High Commissioner on August 8 2017. Dr. Bernard Haufiku, Minister of Health & Social Services of Namibia, received the grant on behalf of Indira Gandhi Maternity Clinic.
An India-Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (INCCI) was established in Windhoek in September 2016.
A 15-member Indian ICT delegation from the Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) visited Namibia in November 2016.
An 11-member delegation from CII visited Namibia from 30-31 July 2017. The delegation comprised representatives of Airports Authority of India, L&T, Sterling & Wilson, Ingoz International, Kirloskar Brothers, Hughes Network Systems India Ltd and Acreaty Management Consultant Ltd. Prime Minister of Namibia Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila met the delegation. The delegation also had meetings with Ministries of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Agriculture, Works and Transport, and Mines & Energy apart from holding meetings with Telecom Namibia, Nampower, Agribusidev and Namibia Airports Authority. A business-to-business interaction with the Namibian companies was also arranged during the visit.
The Mission facilitated the participation of 19 Namibian companies in India-South Africa Business Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa on April 30, 2018. The business summit was organized by the High Commission of India in Pretoria, in collaboration with Confederation of India Industries (CII) and Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, South Africa.
A 3-member delegation from the Federation of Indian Granite and Stone Industry (FIGSI) visited Namibia from 9-11 July 2018. The delegation met the Mining Commissioner in the Ministry of Mines and Energy and visited Damara Granite quarry as well as a stone cutting and polishing plant in Walvis Bay.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Namibia in collaboration with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) of India organized a 2-day African Nations Experience Sharing Workshop on Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations in Windhoek on August 6 2018. The Workshop was inaugurated by Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta and was attended by senior government officials and policy-makers from 14 African countries. The workshop was preceded by the signing of an MOU signed between the two institutions in 2017.
ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) acquired a 15% stake in an oil block in Namibia’s offshore Block 2012A from Tullow Oil of UK. This was OVL’s second acquisition in Namibia. Earlier, OVL had acquired a 30% stake in Namibia’s Petroleum Exploration License (PEL) 37, covering three offshore blocks, from Tullow.
The multi-faceted relations between India and Namibia were complemented by cultural bonding. Yoga had a dedicated following in Namibia. The High Commission ran regular yoga classes at its premises which were quite popular. The Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), Government of India offered 22 scholarships every year for students from Namibia to pursue undergraduate/postgraduate courses/research work in various Indian Universities.
The ICCR sponsored ‘Bhangra & Giddha’ troupe visited Namibia in October 2015. The troupe rendered its performance at Windhoek City Zoo Park Amphitheatre and the International University of Management. The dance performances were widely welcomed in Namibia.
Prime Minister of Namibia Ms. Saara Kuugongelwa Amadhila attended the Indian classical dance performance on October 21, 2016, organized by the High Commission as part of ‘India Week’ celebrations from October 17-24, 2016. The ICCR sponsored a six-member Kathak dance troupe led by Ms. Pratima Roy Chaudhury for this occasion, which also performed in Swakopmund apart from Windhoek. Other events organized as part of ‘India Week’ celebrations included Yoga/meditation sessions, Indian cuisine & henna classes, screening of Indian movies and documentary on Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Dance workshops for the Kathak Dance Troupe were organized at Namibian College of Arts, Windhoek and Indian Cultural Centre.
The Mission organized an event ‘India’s Day with Windhoek’ in partnership with the City of Windhoek on March 28, 2018, at the Municipal City Hall in Windhoek to increase awareness and promote understanding between the Governments and the peoples at State-City levels. The event focused on the art, craft, culture, tourism and cuisine of the State of Bihar.
The Mission organized a yoga demonstration-cum-practice session at Chairman Mao Zedong School in Khomasdal constituency in Windhoek on April 21 2018. Hon. Margaret Mensah Williams, Chairperson of the National Council of Namibia and MP from the Khomasdal constituency, attended the event.
The Mission celebrated the Fourth International Day of Yoga (IDY) on June 23 2018. More than 500 persons participated in the event, including Mayor of Windhoek Muesee Kazapua, Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Christine Hoebes, Namibian Gold Medalist in the last Commonwealth Games Helalia Johannes, members of the Indian community, yoga teachers based in different cities of Namibia, school children, etc. The Mission also organized several other yoga events in the run-up to the main event.
The Mission on October 2, 2018, was organized the Birth Anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi. During the event, the hymn ‘Vaishnav Jan To’ rendered by local artiste Sally Boss Madam was released and a documentary on Mahatma Gandhi was screened. A set of stamps on Mahatma Gandhi received from the Department of Post of India was also released during the event. In the run-up to the event, the Mission donated books on Mahatma Gandhi to various educational institutions in Namibia.
The Mission organized a Reception on January 25, 2019, to celebrate the 70th Republic Day of India. Hon. Christine Hoebes, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation graced the occasion as the Guest of Honour. The event was attended by a broad cross-section of society including Minister of Presidential Affairs, Deputy Minister of Marginalised Community, Deputy Minister of Defence, Deputy Minister of Sports, Youth & National Service, Chairman of Electoral Commission of Namibia, Mayor of Windhoek, senior government functionaries, members of Diplomatic Corps, captains of industry, press and members of Indian community. A brief cultural programme featuring a dance performance by students of the College of Arts in Windhoek was also organized.
The famous Namibian singer Ms. Sally Boss Madam attended the Kumbh Mela-2019 event in Kumbh, Prayagraj as a representative of Namibia during February 21 – 23 2019. During the visit, along with other foreign delegates, she met and had dinner with the External Affairs Minister of India, Mrs. Sushma Swaraj. The Government of India sponsored her visit through the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR).
The Mission celebrated the ITEC Day on March 8, 2019, which was attended by about 150 ITEC alumni. Apart from several senior government officials, the event was also graced by Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Dr. Itah Kandjii-Murangi and Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Christine Hoebes as guests of honour.
The Mission celebrated the ICCR Foundation Day on April 9, 2019, which was attended by more than 70 ICCR alumni. Apart from a number of senior government officials, the event was also graced by Minister of Education, Arts & Culture Hon. Katrina Hanse-Himarwa as a guest of honour.
Presently, there are around 260 Indians/NRIs/PIOs in Namibia. Some of them are doctors, professors, catholic priests and some involved in commerce, transport and services industry, etc. Presence of Indian community in Namibia is growing steadily.