Acknowledging that it cannot afford to rest on the goodwill earned because of the support extended to the decolonisation of Southern Africa, particularly Zambia, India this week embarked on a fresh attempt to re-energise its linkages with this nation to make up for the “deficit of visits” from India to Zambia over the past two decades.

Entrusted with this task, Vice-President Hamid Ansari used both local language and the promise of assistance, financial and capacity building, to articulate India’s commitment to Africa in the first 24 hours of his three-day visit to Zambia.

If, on Tuesday, Mr. Ansari sought to reconnect with the Zambian elite by breaking into Nyanja to say “God Bless Zambia” ( Mulungu Adalise Zambia) much to the delight of the gathering, Wednesday saw the Vice-President sign an agreement aimed at strengthening the country’s energy sector, besides offer a grant to help upgrade the social sector.

Mr. Ansari met Zambian President Rupiah Bwezani Banda and Vice-President George Kunda where the two sides acknowledged India’s significant contribution to the decolonisation of Southern Africa while stressing the need to kindle old ties in the changed world order.

With a view to breathing new life into the existing relationship — and in keeping with the bilateral component of the framework of cooperation agreed upon at the India-Africa Forum Summit in 2008 — an agreement was signed between the Government of Zambia and India’s Exim Bank to extend a loan of $50 million on concessional terms for the construction of the Itezhi-Tezhi Power Project, a joint venture of the Zambia Electricity Supply Company and Tata Africa Holdings.

Line of Credit

Also, India has decided to extend a Line of Credit of $75 million over the next two years and a grant of $5 million to Zambia. In both cases, India will await proposals from the Zambian government on how best to use this financial commitment, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs Ministry Vivek Katju informed journalists accompanying the Vice-President on his three-nation tour of Africa.

It was also decided that the Joint Commission between the two countries would meet soon to work out the full agenda of engagement.

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