New Delhi, July 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for a five-day visit to three African countries – Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa – starting today. He will first reach out bilaterally before heading to South Africa to attend the BRICS Summit during which key global issues, including international peace and security, are expected to be discussed.
The prime minister, who will visit the three countries from July 23-27, will first stop in Rwanda for a two-day “historic” visit, the first by an Indian premier, a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
He will then head to Uganda on July 24 and from there to South Africa.
PM Modi will attend the 10th addition of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg from July 25 to 27 during which the grouping’s leaders are expected to deliberate on global hot-spot issues, international peace and security, global governance and trade issues among others, T S Tirumurti, secretary (Economic Relations) said.
According to reports, PM Modi is expected to meet Chinese Premier Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, where the two leaders will discuss the US’ trade war and its protectionist trade policies.
“President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi will go to South Africa for the BRICS summit… On the sidelines of the summit, Xi will hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of India and other countries. The relevant details (of the meeting) are under negotiation,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
However, when asked about the same, Tirumurti said, “At this point, we don’t have a fix on the bilaterals and with which country.”
PM Modi will be received by Rwandan President Paul Kagame when he arrives in country on the first leg of his three-nation tour. During the visit, he will hold delegation-level talks, pay homage at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, interact with a business forum, and also with the Indian community, Tirumurti said.
A defence cooperation agreement is also expected to be signed between India and Rwanda during the visit, he said.
India will also be opening a mission in Rwanda very soon, Tirumurti said.
“During this visit, we expect to conclude two lines of credit — one of 100 million for development of industrial parks and Kigali special economic zone (SEZ), and another one for USD 100 million for agriculture and irrigation,” he said.
An important element of the programme would be the prime minister’s visit to Rweru Model Village for gifting 200 cows as a contribution from India to the ‘Girinka’ scheme of Rwanda, Tirumurti said.
Under ‘Girinka’, a social protection scheme of the Rwandan government personally overseen by President Kagame, poorest families are gifted dairy cows by the government and the first female calf born to the cow is gifted to the neighbour, thus promoting brotherhood and solidarity.
The cows to be gifted by India would be sourced from Rawanda, Tirumurti said.
“We expect agreements to be concluded in the areas of defence, dairy cooperation, leather, agriculture, and culture,” he said.
Asked if India and China were competing for influence in Africa with President Xi also visiting Rwanda just before Modi, the senior MEA official said, “We don’t look at relations with African countries through the perspective of relations with another country.”
Modi would proceed to Uganda on July 24 for a two-day visit, the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister since 1997.
His programme in Uganda would include, a call on President Yoweri Museveni, restricted and delegation level talks, and participation at an India-Uganda joint business event.
Modi will also address the Ugandan Parliament, the first time an Indian prime minister will do so, the senior MEA official said.
He will also address an Indian community event where president Musevini is also expected to attend.
“We expect to extend two lines of credit for the first time to Uganda — USD 141 million for electricity lines and substations and USD 64 million for agriculture and dairy production,” Tirumurti said.
From Uganda, Modi will head to South Africa on July 25 to participate in the BRICS Summit, whose theme this year is ‘BRICS in Africa’.
At the summit, the prime minister will participate, with other BRICS leaders, in the restricted session, plenary session, leaders retreat, outreach with leaders from Africa, and outreach with leaders from global south.
Issues expected to be deliberated at the summit include BRICS in Africa, fourth industrial revolution, multilateralism, global governance, sustainable development and infrastructure, Tirumurti said.
“BRICS leaders are expected to discuss global hot-spot issues, international peace and security, global governance, trade issues etc., during the restricted session,” he said.
This will also be the first time that a BRICS retreat will be held and leaders will deliberate on the years gone by and the way forward, he said.
Prime Minister Modi will also participate in the outreach with leaders from Africa and outreach with leaders from global south segments of the summit.
The countries invited for the BRICS’ Africa outreach segment are Rwanda, Uganda, Togo, Zambia, Namibia, Senegal, Gabon, Ethiopia, Angola and the African Union chair, Tirumurti said.
The countries invited for the BRICS outreach with leaders from the global south segment are Argentina, Turkey, Indonesia, Jamaica and Egypt, he said, adding that the UN Secretary General has also been invited.
Apart from participating in the summit, the prime minister will also have a bilateral meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
This will be the first visit by the prime minister to South Africa after the new government assumed office there and comes during a year that marks the 125th anniversary of the Pietermaritzburg incident involving Mahatma Gandhi and the 100th birth anniversary of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
(With PTI inputs)