Zambia seeks increased investments from India and direct air connectivity between Mumbai and New Delhi to facilitate growing bilateral relations, officials of the East African country said on Thursday.
In his address at a virtual expo launch which will be online from July 15 to October 15, Zambian High Commissioner to India Ngulkham Jathom Gangte said that India is one of his country’s major trading partners.
The trade between the two nations has grown five-fold in the last decade and the cumulative investments of Asia’s third-largest economy in Zambia has surpassed $5 billion, he said.
There are significant Indian investments in telecom, tourism, healthcare, mining and other sectors and Zambia hopes to further strengthen relations between the two nations, said Gangte.
Zambia Development Agency’s Director General Mukula Makasa said that his country wants to launch direct flights between Lusaka and Indian cities like New Delhi and Mumbai as currently Indians can visit Zambia only via Qatar, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
He said that Zambia is a ‘land-linked’ country, rather than a land-locked nation, since it is well connected by air, rail and road with its neighbours like Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola.
The duo’s remarks came at a webinar on Trade and Business Opportunities between India and Zambia, organised by the MVIRDC World Trade Centre, Mumbai and the Indian High Commission in Lusaka and the launch of the 3-month long exhibition.
WTC Chairman Vijay Kalantri said that India’s annual trade volume with Zambia declined 64 per cent from USD 1.1 billion in 2019-2020 to USD 395 million the following year owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Simultaneously, exports of critical goods like pharmaceuticals grew from India to Zambia amid rising demands from the healthcare industry to combat the pandemic.
The virtual expo will enable buyer-seller meetings and lead business generations in sectors like agro commodities, auto components, electricals, electronics, technology, metals, plastics, chemicals, textiles, healthcare, pharma, and home decor.
Kalantri announced that the WTC Mumbai will set up a dedicated cell to promote commercial relations with Zambia and other African countries, and work closely with various development agencies and chambers of commerce to enhance ties.