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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 11.04.2018

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, addressed theZambia-India Business Forum in Lusaka today (April 11, 2018).

Speaking on the occasion, the President said that Zambia and India are time-tested friends. Built on this strong foundation, our bilateral trade and economic engagement has prospered. Indian companies have invested significantly in Zambia, especially in mining, telecom, energy and manufacturing. But we can do more. There are opportunities for our businesses to explore - from social enterprises to new technology; from community projects to highways; and from "Digital India” to "Smart Zambia”.

The President was happy to note that India is one of Zambia’s largest trading partners. He said trade between the two countries has picked up significantly in the past few years. Going forward, we have to expand our trade basket. He urged all stakeholders – small and medium enterprises, Chambers of Commerce, large companies, new entrepreneurs - to diversify and expand the Zambia-India business corridor.

The President said that our business engagement must also be responsive to socio-economic changes in the two countries. India is one of the few countries where SMEs thrive alongside large companies, creating jobs and ensuring wealth distribution. We stand ready to share our experience with Zambia. Both Zambia and India are blessed with a youthful population. We need to connect our young people through start-ups, skills, technology and new ideas.

Earlier this morning, the President visited the Embassy Park Presidential Memorial in Lusaka and paid his tributes to three former Presidents of Zambia – Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa and Micheal Sata. Thereafter, the President visited the State House and had meaningful and wide-ranging discussions with his counterpart, the President of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu.

The two Presidents exchanged views on bilateral and global issues.Committing to India’s long-standing developmental partnership with Zambia, President Kovind also expressed appreciation for Zambia having signed the International Solar Alliance agreement. He looked forward to early ratification of the agreement from the Zambian side.

President Kovind and President Lungu oversaw the signing of four agreements between the two countries – on double taxation avoidance; on judicial cooperation; on mutual visa waivers for officials and diplomats; and on the Entrepreneurship Development Institute that India will build in Zambia.

As part of President Kovind’s visit, India has also agreed in principle to provide concessional finance and support towards the construction of the Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre in Lusaka. Further, India has gifted Zambia medicines and medical equipment worth US$ 3 million as well as presented US$ 100,000 for the Mahatma Gandhi School in Lusaka.

Later in the evening, the President will visit the home of Mr Kenneth Kaunda, the first President of Zambia and a nonagenarian statesman who is widely respected across the African continent and in India. President Kovind will also attend a banquet hosted in his honour by the President of Zambia.

Yesterday (April 10, 2018) afternoon, the President landed in Lusaka at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airporton the final leg of his state visit to three African nations – Equatorial Guinea, Swaziland and Zambia.He was received at the airport by the President of Zambia and other dignitaries. Later in the evening, the President graced an Indian community reception hosted by High Commissioner of India to Zambia, Shri N.J. Gangte.

Addressing an impressive gathering of the Indian community, the President said that its contributions have helped generate goodwill for the community as well as for India as a nation. Members of the community are our champions in a faraway land. They have made great efforts to embellish India’s reputation as well as keep alive our cultural traditions. This is commendable.

The President said the India-Zambia economic partnership is progressing impressively. Indian business is a significant investor in Zambia and our investments have created value and jobs for the local community. As a living bridge between India and Zambia, it is for the Indian community in Zambia to make the India-Zambia partnership even more meaningful.

Tomorrow(April 12, 2018), the President, jointly with the President of Zambia, will ceremonially commence work on the 93 km Lusaka Traffic Decongestion Project. This is being undertaken by an Indian infrastructure company. President Kovind will also travel to Livingstone to address the Indian community there, before returning to Lusaka and boarding the flight to Delhi.

This release issued at 2040 hrs.

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