President Edgar Lungu yesterday held talks with his visiting Indian counterpart, President Ram Nath Kovind when he visited State House to witness the signing of various Memoranda of Understanding between the two countries.

President Konvid who is in Zambia for a three-day state visit at the invitation of President Lungu, arrived in the country on Tuesday in the company of his wife Savita.

According to a statement issued by First Secretary for Press and Tourism at the Zambian Mission in India, Bangwe Naviley, the two Heads of State witnessed the signing of four Memoranda of Understanding (MOU)s between India and Zambia aimed at enhancing cooperation in various sectors.

“President Kovind arrived at State House in Lusaka at 10:00 hours and held private talks with President Lungu which lasted for 30 minutes. Speaking during the talks, President Edgar Lungu said he is happy that a President of India has visited Zambia for the first time in three decades. He said Zambia and India signed Joint Permanent Cooperation which the two countries should revive. President Lungu said the two countries in the past signed bilateral agreements in agriculture, science and technology, trade, drug trafficking and air services and that other potential areas of interest still exist, that government can work on. And President Kovind said he is happy for the invitation to visit Zambia. He said the visit is important in deepening the relationship between India and Zambia. President Kovind said the India- Zambia cooperation started in the pre- independence era and was strengthened during the reign of former President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda,” Naviley stated.

And Naviley explained the areas in which the two governments had signed the respective MoUs, along with the conditions put in place.

“The first MOU is on avoidance of double taxation signed by Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji and India’s High Commissioner to Zambia NJ Gante. The second MoU signed by Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kapyongo and India’s High Commissioner to Zambia NJ Gante is on visa exemption on diplomatic passports allowing the diplomatic passport holders to enter without visas. The third MoU signed by Justice Minister Given Lubinda and Zambia’s High Commissioner to Zambia NJ Gante is on judicial cooperation which seeks collaboration in training and expedition of judicial matters affecting the two countries and their citizens. The fourth MoU signed by Commerce Minister Christopher Yaluma and India’s High Commissioner to Zambia NJ Gante seeks the establishment of Entrepreneurship Development Institute in Zambia in conformity with the Vision 2030 which would help entrepreneurship to access finance and general empowerment,” Naviley stated.

And Naviley noted that there had been a steady increase in bilateral trade between Zambia and the Indian government, which currently stood at US$1.2 billion from April 2017 to January 2018.

“Facts show that private sector investment in Zambia by Indian companies currently stands at over US$5 billion in sectors such as mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals. There has been a steady increase in bilateral trade which stands at US$1.2 billion from April 2017 to January 2018. India is an important and strategic partner in the quest of the Patriotic Front- PF Government to deliver development to the Zambian people as articulated in the Seventh National Development Plan. India and Zambia also signed a US$40 million Agriculture Mechanisation agreement during the visit,” stated Naviley.

Naviley also stated that President Kovind and President Lungu would also officiate at a ground breaking ceremony of the decongestion of Lusaka roads which would result into the formation of a number of fly over bridges.

The Indian President is scheduled to leave Zambia today.