President Ram Nath Kovind to visit Africa on April 7

Vastavam web: President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a three-nation visit to Africa on April 7, his third visit abroad since assuming the presidency in July last year and all of them being to the African continent.During the six-day visit, Kovind will visit Equatorial Guinea, Swaziland and Zambia, Neena Malhotra, joint secretary (east and southern Africa), said.On April 8, he will address the Parliament of Equatorial Guinea and hold talks with his counterpart Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

“Both the presidents are expected to review the entire gamut of relations,” Malhotra said.Kovind will also address a gathering of the Indian community in the country.Equatorial Guinea joined as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in January 2018 for a two-year period.The central African country is also the fourth largest supplier of natural gas to India. The total trade between India and Equatorial Guinea in 2016-17 was USD 809 million.

“A decision to open a Resident Indian Mission in Malabo (the capital of Equatorial Guinea) will also be announced during the visit,” she added.Three agreements are expected to be signed during President Kovind’s visit to the country.This, too, wiil be the first visit by a head of state/government from India to Swaziland. Swazi King Mswati III had attended the 2015 India-Africa Forum Summit.

Besides holding talks with King Mswati III, President Kovind will also address the Swazi Parliament.On the final leg of his visit, Kovind will arrive in Zambia on April 10.He will hold talks with his Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu, and meet Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of Zambia.

Besides interacting with the Indian community, Kovind will address a business event in Zambia jointly, with Lungu.The bilateral trade between India and Zambia reached USD 1 billion in 2016-17 and India imports copper from the African country. The Indian investment in Zambia is nearly USD 5 billion, mostly in the mining sector.After assuming the presidency on July 25 last year, Kovind has visited five countries – all of them in the African continent.

India has intensified its cooperation with the continent witnessing an increasing in influence of China.