New Delhi: India and South Africa have set the ball rolling to take forward bilateral relations in defence & security and trade & investment by signing a three-year programme, said reports. (Also read: List of Metro Stations to Remain Affected on R-Day) Also Read - PM Modi Dedicates Made-in-India Arjun Battle Tank to Army in Chennai, Launches Infra Projects Worth Several Crores

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, the chief guest at the Republic Day parade on Rajpath on Saturday, is accompanied by a 50-member business delegation and a marching contingent from South Africa is to take part in the parade. Describing it as “new beginnings to old partnerships”, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, “PM @narendramodi and South African President @CyrilRamaphosa held wide-ranging talks on cooperation in defence & security, trade & investment, skill development, S&T, education and technical cooperation and multilateral forums.” Also Read - Meet Captain Preeti Choudhary, Indian Army's Only Woman Contingent Commander, Who Led R-Day Parade 2021

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quoted as saying, “Indian companies are taking an active part in the efforts of President Ramaphosa to increase investment in South Africa. We are also partners in South Africa’s skill development efforts. The Gandhi-Mandela Skills Institute is set to be established soon in Pretoria. And we both are committed to take these relationships to a new level.”

He said, “Today in the interaction with President, we reviewed all the dimensions of our relations…Our bilateral trade is more than 10 billion dollars. In this year ‘s “Vibrant Gujarat”, South Africa has participated in the form of Partner Country and Indian companies are participating in the efforts of President Ramphosa to increase investment in South Africa.”

Ramaphosa delivered the first Gandhi-Mandela freedom lecture at an event in New Delhi, in the presence of PM Modi. With South Africa’s premier defence company, Denel, no longer on the Indian blacklist, India could forge partnerships for weapons supplies. India is among South Africa’s top five trading partners.

India’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Ruchira Kamboj, said, “The economic partnership is robust; there are over 150 Indian companies based out of South Africa, employing close to 20,000 locals.”
TS Tirumurti, secretary (Economic Relations) in MEA, told journalists that it is not often recognized that India and South Africa have active cooperation on science and technology; they have completed 74 projects together.