PRETORIA, South Africa, Jul 8 – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took his Africa tour to South Africa on Friday, seeking to boost trade between two countries that he said “shared values, suffering and struggles”.
Modi, who arrived from Mozambique, was on the second leg of a five-day trip that will also take in Tanzania and Kenya in an itinerary designed to underline India’s growing engagement with Africa.
“Two-way trade has grown by over 300 percent in last 10 years,” Modi said after talks with President Jacob Zuma in the South African capital Pretoria.
“Industry-to-industry ties can not only bring rich economic gains to our societies – they can give a new shape to our partnership, and drive it to new levels.”
The two leaders signed agreements on information technology and tourism, and vowed to work on further deals in mining, pharmaceuticals and defence.
India is South Africa’s sixth-largest trading partner, with two-way trade reaching $5.3 billion in 2015-16.
Among the countries’ cultural and historic links is the 21 years that Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi spent living in South Africa as a lawyer and activist.
“We stood together in our common fight against racial subjugation and colonialism,” Modi said.
“It was in South Africa that Gandhi found his true calling.”
South Africa also has 1.3 million people of Indian origin, the largest diaspora population in Africa – a major focus of Modi’s diplomatic push across the world since taking office two years ago.