Indian High Commissioner to Namibia Prashant Agrawal candidly expressed his views in response to questions from Chrispin Inambao the Editor of New Era on the bilateral relationship between the two countries and how these ties could mutually benefit and enhance trade between the two. He also spoke about the 14th CII-Exim Conclave hosted by New Delhi and attended by Namibia and several African countries.
CI: In your view how can Namibia and India benefit from the 14th edition of the CII-EXIM Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership?
PA: The CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa project partnership is a flagship event that brings together the best of Indian companies and the Indian Government for discussing opportunities in a very diverse range of sectors with partner countries in Africa as per their needs and priorities. In previous editions, many successful projects have been conceived and subsequently implemented. We are delighted that Hon. Obeth Kandjoze, Minister of Economic Planning and Director General of National Planning represented Namibia at the Conclave. We hope these discussions will take Namibia-India partnership forward.
CI: What is India doing to ensure the high concentration of Indian investments in Mauritius and East Africa is also spread to other African countries specifically Namibia?
PA: Investments go to places which provide suitable conditions and returns. While Mauritius and East Africa also have large Indian communities actively contributing to local economies, we feel Namibia is ideally positioned to attract more Indian investments. From our side we have offered every possible facilitation, promoted interaction between potential partners, as well as offered financing options, besides grants, such as Indian Lines of Credit (LoCs) as per Namibia’s needs and requirements.
CI: What are the major obstacles that impede potential Indian investors intending to come and invest in Namibia?
PA: There are no major obstacles for potential investments. They could of course benefit from facilitatory measures or incentives to choose Namibia as a base rather than other countries to supply Sadc markets.
CI: What are the current levels of Indian trade and investment in Namibia?
PA: The current bilateral trade stands at US$106.6 million, with Namibia enjoying a trade surplus of US$18.3 million. A lot of our trade with Namibia actually doesn’t get captured in these figures because it is through South Africa. Scorpion Zinc (US$ 750 million), GPT (US$ 2.7 million) are some major Indian investments here, though considering that India is the 5th largest investor in Africa with total investment being US$54 billion, the figure ought to be much higher.
CI: In which specific economic spheres are Indians interested to invest in Namibia?
PA: Agriculture and irrigation, critical infrastructure such as railways and logistical chains from mine pit-heads to the port, solar energy, health, education, innovation and entrepreneurship are some of the areas where there can be win-win partnerships between Namibia and India.
CI: How does Namibia fair when compared to other African countries in terms of trade incentives, investor-friendly policies and taxation?
PA: Namibia provides an excellent destination/business climate for businesses. More than 40 African countries are using Indian LoCs effectively to enhance their critical infrastructure, both physical and social, and boost growth in turn. These could potentially be used here as well as per your national needs and priorities.
CI: In your view what makes Namibia an ideal investment destination for potential investors from India?
PA: A stable democracy, rule of law, strong leadership, English as the prevailing language, good infrastructure and human resources, excellent bilateral relations are just some of the pluses for potential investors from India to Namibia.
CI: Are there any partnership projects involving Namibian and their Indian counterparts?
PA: A number of such projects in priority areas are on the anvil. It may be early to provide details. Indian companies pride themselves in providing local incomes and employment. Their projects benefit the Namibian economy and its people.
CI: What do you intend to accomplish by the end of your diplomatic tenure in Namibia?
PA: I strive to make our historically close partnership future-oriented and cater to the needs of the younger generation by adding more economic, investment, innovation and entrepreneurship content to our cooperation.