After completing visits to the energy rich Gulf region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to begin a new round of energy diplomacy and diaspora-outreach in Africa, with visits to Mozambique and South Africa this summer, officials have confirmed to The Hindu .
The expected visit to Africa follows the Prime Minister’s outreach to Saudi Arabia in April and Iran, which he will visit later this month.
He is also scheduled to visit Qatar on his way back from the United States in June. Mr. Modi is also likely to travel to a third destination during this travel window which has not yet been confirmed.
Energy ties Mr. Modi’s visit to Mozambique is significant as the country is home to a bulk of India’s Africa-bound investment. Energy dialogue between two sides has been steadily growing since the India Africa Forum Summit, when Carlos Augustinho Do Rosario, Prime Minister of Mozambique discussed the possibility of expanding energy ties.
The discussions were followed up by the April 8-10 Mozambique visit by Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
Mr. Modi’s visit will also be a reciprocation as Mozambique was among the first countries in Africa to engage the Modi government; in August 2015, both sides signed a crucial MoU to cooperate in the new and renewable energy sector during the visit of President Felipe Nyusi to India. Diplomatic sources have confirmed to The Hindu that the discussion regarding Mr. Modi’s visits to Mozambique and South Africa have been on for some time as and official details for the trips are being finalised.
Major energy exporter Mozambique is expected to become a major energy exporter like Nigeria if it can set a proper legal framework to enable foreign firms to explore oil and gas in the country. India has been a major campaigner to facilitate the pro-energy legal framework in the country.
However, sources said that while the visit to Mozambique will focus on energy acquisition, the visit to South Africa will be more political and of symbolic value.
A source closely connected with Prime Minister’s outreach to the Indian diaspora told The Hindu on condition of anonymity, that given the large Indian diaspora in South Africa, Mr. Modi is likely to address a major public event of People of Indian Origion (PIOs) during the trip to the country. “The Indian community in South Africa is historic in nature and has the necessary resources that they can quickly mobilise for a public event for Prime Minister Modi,” he said. South Africa has been a partner of India under the BRICS platform and the visit to Johannesburg is likely to provide an important dialogue to the run up to the BRICS summit to be held in Goa later this year.