New Delhi: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, reached Cotonou, Benin yesterday (July 28, 2019) on the first leg of his state visits to three West African nations – Benin, Gambia and Guinea. This visit is the first-ever visit of Head of State/Head of Government of India to each of the three countries.
Today (July 29, 2019), the President commenced his engagements with visit to the Presidential Palace of the Marina in Cotonou where he was received by his counterpart, Mr Patrice Talon and accorded a ceremonial welcome.
During the subsequent one-to-one discussions with President Talon, the President said that it is indeed a great honour for him to pay the first-ever State Visit from India to Benin. He thanked President Talon for his gracious welcome and hospitality.
Subsequently, the President led delegation-level talks between the two sides. Speaking on the occasion, he said that Benin and India share warm and friendly ties. India is keen to strengthen economic partnership with Benin. He was happy to note that India has emerged as the largest trading partner of Benin with two-way trade crossing US$ 800 million. Around 100 Indian or Indian-owned companies are operating in Benin. More Indian companies are interested to enter the Benin market especially in mining. India seeks Benin’s support to help them grow their business.
The President said that India is committed to support Benin’s growth and development. He was happy to note that implementation of the US$ 42.6 million Line of Credit for upgradation of water supply schemes in 103 villages in Benin, is proceeding well. He announced fresh Line of Credit worth US$ 100 million for developmental projects in Benin. He also announced extension of e-visa facility to Benin. He expressed confidence that this facility will give a major boost to India-Benin business relations. India also offered to extend free tele-education courses to 15,000 Beninese students and tele-medicine courses to 1000 doctors and paramedics in Africa. In addition, the two sides discussed defence and security cooperation and India offered further training assistance to Benin to expand its anti-piracy capacity.
India thanked Benin for its support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Both countries reiterated their commitment to stand together in the global fight against terrorism and piracy. They also agreed to work together to combat climate change through the International Solar Alliance.
The two Presidents witnessed the signing and exchange of MOUs/agreements on:
(i) Cultural Exchange Programme between the two countries for the years 2019-2023
(ii) MOU on Cooperation in the field of Export Credit and Investment Insurance
(iii) MOU between Benin & Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) for participation in the e- VBAB Network Project (Technology upgradation of Pan Africa e-Network Project (PAeNP)- Phase-I) of Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India
(iv) Agreement on mutual exemption from the visa requirement for holders of Diplomatic, Official/Service Passports
The President also issued a Press Statement on his visit to Benin (attached).
Later in the evening, the President will address the National Assembly of Benin in Porto Novo. He will also attend a banquet hosted in his honour by the President of Benin.