India called to support SA’s development plan

JANUARY 9, 2015

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says South Africa is certain that the Indian government and business sector will partner with it to implement the National Development Plan (NDP).

She said the two countries can jointly explore opportunities for mutual benefit.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane was speaking at the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Day of Indians in the Diaspora, and Centenary Celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi's return to India.

The celebration was held at Gujarat State in India yesterday.

“In South Africa, we are implementing the NDP (Vision 2030) to address the treble challenge [of poverty, inequality and unemployment], and we are working on forging partnerships with countries such as India to share knowledge and skills so as to improve the quality of the lives of our peoples,” the Minister said.

Amongst other priorities, the NDP aims to guide efforts in improving healthcare, beneficiating mineral output, investing in renewable energy, training and skilling the population and creating decent work for South Africans.

“There are many areas where we would like to see better cooperation between our two countries, particularly in the fields of Information and Communications Technology, healthcare, renewable energy,” the Minister said.

“At the moment, total bilateral trade between South Africa and India stands at US$ 15 billion (about R175.5 billion). Our leaders have set a target of US$ 18 billion (about R210.6 billion) by the year 2018.”

She said she hoped that the two countries will able to use their historic and cordial relations to tackle their common challenges and realise shared aspirations.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said the South African government is looking forward to the contribution that India can make in shaping a new international financial architecture, as India will be appointing the first President of the BRICS New Development Bank.

“This will provide us with another concrete tool to pursue our development objectives,” she said.

Africa and India

The Minister deemed Africa a continent on the rise, and counted India as a dependable partner of Africa, saying government was looking forward to more engagement with the country in pursuit of the aspirations of the African people, which are peace, security and development.

“As we celebrate the centenary of Gandhi's return to India and pay homage to his values, we honour him as a powerful symbol of the ties that bind Africa and India.

“Gandhi's philosophy and the example of resistance against oppression contributed to the intellectual and spiritual basis for the struggle against colonialism and apartheid,” the Minister said.

She said Gandhi's efforts helped feed the emerging consciousness at the time.

The Minister said South Africa was home to the largest community of Indians outside of India, referring to the latest census figures that showed South Africa's Indian population numbers approximately 1.3 million, or about 2.7% of South Africa's population.

“We must continue to use the bonds that bind our two countries and peoples to pursue a progressive agenda in our respective countries and in the global arena.

“A lot remains to be done both in South Africa and India to address the treble challenge of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment,” Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said. -