“INDIA IS A RELIABLE PARTNER AND FRIEND”
India and Zambia have long-established diplomatic, business and cultural ties. Since India attained independence from Britain, Zambia turned to us for both political and economic support during its own struggle for independence from the empire. Today bilateral ties are flourishing. Acting High Commissioner Mrs Deliwe N Mumbi responded to questions from Diplomatic and Business Editor Yogesh Sood.
Zambia and India have historical ties since the time of the two nations’ freedom struggle and their aspirations to come out of the clutches of the British Empire. Please take us through a bit of this history between our nations…
Zambia and India’s economic and political relations have existed for a very long time. The two countries have cooperated from the time that India attained independence from Britain.
From then, Zambia turned to India for both political and economic support, in its struggle for independence against British colonial rule. The First Republican President and other nationalist freedom fighters visited India and met Indian political leaders for material and moral support.
While India was giving this support, Indians who were resident in Zambia, some of whom became citizens at independence—also contributed significantly to the attainment of Zambia’s independence.
After independence in 1964, the two countries continued to relate very well and were both members of the Non-Aligned Movement. For several years, especially after 1973, Zambia became a one party participatory democracy and its economy was under direct control of the government.
The situation changed in 1991 following the re-introduction of multi-party democracy under the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). The economy was liberalized and many Indian businesses opened up in Zambia.
High level visits began when Dr Kenneth Kaunda, the first President of Zambia, visited India on a state visit in 1967. More recently, in 2023, the visits continue with many high officials from Zambia regularly visiting India and vice versa. Please let us know about such recent high-level visits…
The leaders of the Zambian freedom struggle drew inspiration from the leaders of India’s freedom struggle, particularly Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi continues to inspire and invoke admiration in Zambia and among its leaders, even the younger generation. The warm relations have continued into this century. Over these last several decades, India has come to be seen as a reliable partner and friend and is described by Zambian leaders as an “all weather and time-tested friend”.
The relationship continues to be driven by mutual respect and is based in a spirit of partnership for mutual benefit. High level visits have been a feature of our historical bilateral relationship. Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, the first Republican President of Zambia, visited India more than ten times including as a freedom fighter in 1957 and a state visit in 1967. President Chiluba paid a state visit to India in October 1993.
President Mwanawasa paid a state visit to India in April 2003. President Michael Chilufya Sata, accompanied by First Lady Mrs. Christine Kaseba, paid a private visit to India in March 2012 and First President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda paid a private visit to India in June 2012.
President Edgar Lungu undertook a state visit to India from 20-22 August 2019, when he had discussions with Hon’ble President of India and Prime Minister as well as held delegation level talks.
In 2022, Zambia’s Vice President Her Honour Mrs W. K Mutale Nalumango M.P, accompanied by Hon. Elias Mubanga, M.P Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Senior Government officials, attended the 17th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave in India from 18th to 22nd July.
During the visit to India, Her Honour the Vice President addressed the CII-EXIM Bank Conclave as well as held bilateral meetings with her counterparts from the Republic of India and The Gambia.
On the sidelines, Her Honour the Vice President also visited Apollo Hospitals and undertook a working visit to the State of Gujarat, where the Vice President toured Amul Cooperatives Plant, Torrent Pharmaceuticals and addressed the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Early this year, Rt. Honourable Nelly Butete Kashumba Mutti M.P, Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, called on the Vice President of India, Hon. Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar on February 3, 2023 and their discussion centred around strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.
On the same day, she met the Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Lower House) of India’s bicameral Parliament, Shri Om Birla On 3rd February, 2023, before she appeared on a pre-recorded interview on Sansad TV which was based on bilateral relations between the two countries.
During the interview, Madam. Mutti called upon Indian pharmaceutical companies to set up plants in Zambia as it provided a readily available market in Southern Africa due to its strategic location.
The then Permanent Secretary (International Relations and Cooperation) Amb. Isabelle M.M. Lemba visited India from 25th to 26th May, 2023 to attend the Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) meeting. She led the Zambian delegation while the Indian side was led by Mr. Puneet R. Kundal, Joint Secretary (East & Southern Africa), Ministry of External Affairs.
The aim of the consultations was to undertake a comprehensive review of various aspects of bilateral cooperation and exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest.
Please let us know about bilateral trade and business, and the extent of imports and exports from India and vice versa.
In 2021, India exported US $431M to Zambia. The main products exported from India to Zambia were packaged medicaments (US $115m), vaccines, blood, antisera, toxins and cultures (US $34.7m), and large construction vehicles (US $17.7m). During the last 26 years the exports of India to Zambia have increased at an annualized rate of 9.6%, from US $39.8m in 1995 to US $431m in 2021.
In 2021, Zambia exported $97.3M to India. The main products exported from Zambia to India were precious stones (US $71.8m), raw lead ($11.8m), and soybeans (US $3.75m). During the last 26 years the exports of Zambia to India have increased at an annualized rate of 0.86%, from US $78M in 1995 to US $97.3M in 2021.
This trade imbalance between the two countries where India is exporting more than Zambia was addressed during the 2023 FOC meeting earlier this year where it was agreed that more avenues of export should be explored for Zambia to sell more products to India.