New Delhi: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, and the President of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, ceremonially commenced work on the 93-km Lusaka Traffic Decongestion Project today (April 12, 2018) – the final day of President Kovind’s state visit to three African nations, Equatorial Guinea, Swaziland and Zambia. The Lusaka Traffic Decongestion Project has received substantial financial support from the government of India and is being executed by an Indian company, AFCONS Infrastructure.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that development partnership and economic cooperation are key pillars of India-Zambia relations. He was happy to note that the two countries are collaborating on projects that will benefit the citizens of Zambia. He said that India appreciates the people-centric approach of the Zambian government in its programmes and policies.
The President said that traffic congestion is a modern day challenge in urban centres across the world. The economic costs of traffic gridlocks, and the additional burden of traffic congestion on the health and well-being of commuters, are well-documented. He expressed hope that the Lusaka project would lead to further cooperation between Zambia and India on socially relevant initiatives.
Later in the day, the President travelled to Livingstone and addressed the Indian community there. He said that the government of India seeks sustained and proactive engagement with the overseas Indian community. Dialogue with the diaspora is aimed at providing possibilities and platforms through which it can learn about as well as participate in India’s transformation. And link this transformation with the developmental priorities of Zambia.
Following a short visit to the Victoria Falls, President Kovind will return to Lusaka and board the flight to Delhi. He is expected to land in India early in the morning tomorrow (April 13, 2018).
Yesterday (April 11, 2018) evening, the President attended a banquet hosted in his honour by the President of Zambia in Lusaka. Speaking on the occasion, the President said that India and Zambia have a shared commitment to democratic governance, rule of law, human rights and inclusive development. Our economic cooperation is on track but we both desire to do more.
Indian companies, President Kovind said, have been encouraged by the economic policies of the government of Zambia. They are keen to create new ventures in partnership with the Zambian people and local communities. The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement that we have signed will give a boost to our economic engagement. There is a lot that “Smart Zambia” and “Digital India” can share; the Indian growth story and Zambian economic strengths should support and build on each other.
Before the banquet, President Kovind called on Mr Kenneth Kaunda, the founding President of Zambia, at his residence. In an emotional meeting with the 93-year-old Mr Kaunda, the President appreciated his statesmanship, struggle for human liberty and friendship for India and the Indian people. The two leaders discussed Mahatma Gandhi and how he was an inspiration for India and Zambia, and for other countries in Africa. President Kovind invited Mr Kaunda to visit India, an invitation that the Zambian statesman accepted.