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After Jaishankar, Army Chief’s visit to Zanzibar shows India’s outreach to Africa, Global South

Zanzibar President Hussein Ali Mwinyi with Indian Army chief General Manoj Pande at the State House in Zanzibar city on Wednesday (All images courtesy: President's Office and Chairman of Revolutionary Council, Zanzibar)

Army Chief General Manoj Pande’s visit to Zanzibar, a small Island off the coast of mainland of Eastern Africa, before wrapping up his four-day visit to Tanzania on Thursday spotlights not only India’s growing role in enhancing the security of the east coast of the continent and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) but also serves a reminder of the focus government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi places on building people-to-people ties across Africa and the Global South.

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Indian Army was presented a Guard of Honour on arrival in Zanzibar on Wednesday, following which he held discussions with Brigadier SH Saidi, Commander 101st Brigade and shared thoughts on spectrum of aspects including security challenges, custom-made training curriculum and infrastructure.

General Manoj Pande then called on Zanzibar President, Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi at his palace with bilateral defence engagements and avenues to further strengthen the collaboration being the agenda for talks. Mwinyi acknowledged the “stellar role” played by the Indian Army in enhancing the India-Tanzania friendship ties and its steps to lay the strong future bilateral relationship.

The President of Zanzibar, who is also the Chairman of the country’s Revolutionary Council, handed over the gift of the ‘Gate of Zanzibar’ to General Pande before the delegation-level talks.

zanzibar india

This is the second high-level visit from New Delhi to the autonomous constituent of the Tanzania which was once the trading hub for the East African hinterland.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited the archipelago off the coast of Tanzania known for its spice heritage in July this year.

Jaishankar’s visit, which coincided with Indian Naval Ship Trishul making a port call at Zanzibar, reflected India’s cordial ties with its maritime neighbours and also the vision to utilise New Delhi’s current G20 presidency to give resonance to the voice of the Global South.

Mwinyi also attended a deck reception hosted onboard the Indian warship along with Jaishankar, Ministers, MPs, senior officers from Tanzanian Defence Forces and Indian diaspora as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for setting up of the first IIT campus outside India was signed between India’s Ministry of Education, IIT Madras and Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) of Zanzibar.

“INS Trishul’s presence in Zanzibar is a statement of our SAGAR (Safety and Growth for All in the Region) commitment,” said Jaishankar during the event.

With Tanzania’s economy in doldrums, India is making a number of strategic investments on east coast of Africa with particular focus on Zanzibar and Dar-es-Salaam.

Both countries have already agreed to leverage ocean resources and also drawn a five-year roadmap for defence cooperation, ranging from customised training and capacity building to maritime cooperation, infrastructure building and collaboration in defence equipment and technology.

Ambassador Samwel Shelukindo, the Permanent Secretary at the Tanzanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has urged India to support his country’s efforts in promoting blue economy which is one of the priority sectors of the government led by Samia Solution Hassan, Tanzania’s first woman president.

Tanzania – one of India’s reliable partners on the east coast of Africa at the western edge of the Indian Ocean – is a natural and effective transportation gateway into eastern, southern and central Africa with its three deepwater ports in Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Mtwara that service six landlocked neighbouring countries of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia and Malawi.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with Tanzania’s Defence Minister Innocent Lugha Basungwa on the sidelines of the Aero India show in Bengaluru, earlier this year (Image courtesy: PIB)

“I recommend that the Government of India establish cooperation with Tanzania in developing the blue economy sector, particularly, fishing on the high seas, development of fish processing industries, search and rescue, boat manufacturing and boat-making equipment,” Shelukindo said during a bilateral meeting held on June 26.

The Tanzanian government has thanked India for providing aid in various sectors, including soft loans of one billion USD for the development of water projects which will eventually benefit more than six million people of the country.

Even as they wait to sign a major agreement on agriculture, Tanzania will be selling 200,000 tonnes of peas to India per year with both countries also working on new areas of cooperation in the sectors of IT, water, sports and culture, trade and investment.

Also Read: Tanzania now becomes part of India’s strategic outreach focusing on Africa’s east coast