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Samia to Make ‘Historic’ Visit to India to Boost Relations

The visit comes at a time when there are heightened relations between the two nations, including in military and defence areas.

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Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan is expected to make a “historic” visit to India at the invitation of the South Asian country to boost “excellent historical ties” that exist between the two countries, Foreign Minister January Makamba said Thursday.

During the visit, President Samia is expected to address the Tanzania-India Business and Investment Forum co-organised by three premier business associations in India – FICCI, CII, and ASSOCHAM – and Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) and the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF).

In his statement on Thursday, Mr Makamba said that a delegation of about 80 businesspeople from Tanzania will join India’s 130 top businesspeople for the forum. While in India, Samia is also expected to hold a CEO Roundtable with India’s top 15 CEOs and business leaders to discuss investment opportunities in key sectors in Tanzania.

While in the country, the Tanzanian leader will hold official bilateral talks with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the country’s President Droupadi Murmu, who will also host a State Banquet in Samia’s honour.

About 15 agreements on cooperation between Tanzania and India will be signed during the visit, Mr Makamba revealed, covering education, agriculture, blue economy, defence, maritime security, health, ICTs, trade and investment, water and other sectors.

India will also seek to establish a sizable industrial park on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, the minister added. At the conclusion of the visit, the two leaders will make some important announcements on the elevation of the partnership between the two countries.

“Our two countries enjoy excellent historical relations,” Mr Makamba, who doubles as Bumbuli MP (Chama cha Mapinduzi – CCM), said in an X, formerly Twitter, statement.

“Our people have interacted for as long as monsoon winds have been blowing over the Indian Ocean,” he added. “India was one of the first countries to open an embassy in Tanzania in 1961, and our embassy in Delhi is one of our first few in 1962.”

Improved ties

Samia’s visit to India, described as the world’s largest democracy, comes almost seven years since Mr Modi visited Tanzania in July 2016, where he met and held talks with former President John Magufuli, who died on March 17, 2021.

Several agreements were signed during this visit, which included the agreement to establish a vocational training centre in Zanzibar. The centre, called IIT Madras Zanzibar campus, became operational this month, starting with 70 students.

The visit also comes almost a month since India’s Foreign Minister, Dr S. Jaishankar, visited Tanzania between July 5 and July 8, 2023, where, among other things, he co-chaired the 10th India-Tanzania Joint Commission Meeting.

READ MORE: India’s FM Jaishankar Visits Tanzania for Four-Day Visit

India is Tanzania’s second largest trading partner, with bilateral trade of US$4.58 billion between 2021 and 2022, data shows. India is also among the top five investment sources in Tanzania, and as per the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), Indian investments in Tanzania add up to US$3.68 billion.

Apart from trade, India and Tanzania also have long-standing defence cooperation in trading, capacity building and equipment supply, strengthened by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defence cooperation the two signed in 2003, which has allowed India to export arms and ammunition to Tanzania.

The MoU provides an over-arching framework for progressing various defence cooperation initiatives between the two countries. In recent years, India and Tanzania have cooperated in defence training in Indian institutions.

In fact, Samia’s visit to India was announced at a time when the country’s Chief of Army Staff, General Manoj Pande, is in Tanzania for a four-day visit to the East African nation to “reinforce the long-standing defence ties between the two nations.”

READ MORE: India’s Army Chief General Visits Tanzania for Four-Day Official Visit

Pande’s visit to Tanzania coincided with the second India-Tanzania Mini DEFEXPO, which concluded recently, where India’s growing prowess in the indigenous defence industry is showcased.

Tanzania and India have traditionally enjoyed close, friendly and cooperative relations. From the 1960s to the 1980s, for example, the political relationship involved shared commitments to anti-colonialism, non-alignment, as well as South-South Cooperation and close cooperation in international fora.

In the post-Cold War period, India and Tanzania initiated economic reform programmes around the same time, developing external relations aimed at broader international political and economic relations, developing international business linkages and inward foreign investment.

According to the World Bank, with 1.2 billion people, India is the world’s third-largest economy in purchasing power parity terms, describing the country’s recent growth as “a significant achievement.”

India’s landmark agricultural revolution is credited with transforming the nation from chronic dependence on grain imports into an agricultural powerhouse and a net food exporter.

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