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Indian deputy president to tour Lesotho

Mohalenyane Phakela

INDIAN Vice President Venkaiah Naidu is set to visit Lesotho later this year as his country is also expected to roll out various aid packages for the country.

This was announced by the High Commissioner of India to Lesotho and South Africa, Ruchira Kamboj, in a recent interview with this publication at a local hotel. She said Mr Naidu will lead a high-powered delegation which will also tour South Africa.

Ms Kamboj said India’s assistance will be in the fields of health, mining, tourism and education among others.

She said the two governments have discussed various ways in which India could assist Lesotho and that several projects are in the pipeline.

“Last year we inaugurated the information technology Centre at Lerotholi Polytechnic donated by the government of India to Lesotho and also mentioned that there would be a vocation school built this year and steps are ahead for the construction to start,” Ms Kamboj told the Sunday Express.

“The government of Lesotho also requested for donations of ambulances and I am delighted to reveal that such a request has been approved. At the moment, the logistics are being laid out so that the ambulances can be sent from India to Lesotho.

“We have also discussed projects in other areas with the government of Lesotho and those include cutting and polishing of diamonds and also making jewellery off them. Besides diamonds, Lesotho is one of the best producers of mohair which also can boost the country’s economy tremendously if exploited fully.

“Tourism is one of the pillars of Indian economy so we also touched on how Lesotho could be aided in boosting its economy through its rich heritage and landscape. India is also rich in medical expertise so that is another field which will be further explored, not forgetting to mention that the Apollo Team has been doing a sterling job in assisting patients in Lesotho’s hospitals.”

In October last year, Ms Kamboj told the Sunday Express’s sister publication, the Lesotho Times, that India had set aside about M67 million for the construction of a vocational school in Lesotho with construction set to start this year.

“India is committed to assisting Lesotho in various development ways and the vocational school for women and youth will be another huge project donated by government of India. It is going to be a very significant project worth USD4, 7 million (about M67 million) and the construction equipment is already in the country,” she said.

And on Thursday Ms Kamboj further said that 2019 would be a significant year for the India-Lesotho relations and all the aid will be done to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.

“India and Lesotho, so as the rest of Africa, have similar history of being colonised at one point but India was able to develop its economy and therefore wishes to help Africa do the same

“In the coming months, a delegation led by the vice president of India will visit South Africa and Lesotho to meet with the governments on a bilateral level. One of the key plans is to link tourism between the three countries while other development strategies will also be discussed. Some of the assistance is provided upon request such as the issue of ambulances therefore Lesotho will be expected to make requests for its needs during this high-level visit.

“India and Lesotho have to work harder to assist each other and we believe that most projects will be implemented this year hence I say 2019 will be a good year for India-Africa relations. The Indian Association of Lesotho is already doing well in assisting Basotho in various ways which is another testament of commitment of Indians in helping Lesotho,” Ms Kamboj said.

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