About Us India - South Africa Relations

High Commission of India


India - South Africa Relations

Historical Background

India’s relations with South Africa date back several centuries. India was at the forefront of the international community in its support to the antiapartheid movement; it was the first country to sever trade relations with the apartheid Government (in 1946) and subsequently imposed a complete - diplomatic, commercial, cultural and sports - embargo on South Africa. India worked consistently to put the issue of apartheid on the agenda of the UN, NAM and other multilateral organizations and for the imposition of comprehensive international sanctions against South Africa. The African National Congress (ANC) maintained a representative office in New Delhi from the 1960s onwards. India actively worked for the AFRICA Fund to help sustain the struggle through support to the frontline states.

India restored relations with South Africa after a gap of over four decades with the opening of a Cultural Centre in Johannesburg in May 1993. Diplomatic and consular relations with South Africa were restored in November 1993 when the then South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha visited India. A Consulate General was thereafter established in Johannesburg. The Indian High Commission in Pretoria was opened in May 1994, followed by the opening of the Consulate General in Durban the same month. Since Parliament in South Africa meets in Cape Town, a permanent office of the High Commission was opened there in 1996, which has been re-designated as Consulate General of India with effect from January 2011. In addition to its High Commission in Delhi, South Africa has opened its Consulate General in Mumbai.

Political Relations

Against the background of India’s consistent support to the anti-apartheid struggle, there has been a steady consolidation of our close and friendly ties with South Africa, bilaterally and through BRICS, IBSA and other Fora.  A number of bilateral agreements have been concluded between the two countries since the assumption of diplomatic relations in 1993 in diverse areas ranging from economic and commercial cooperation, defence, culture, heath, human settlements, public administration, science and technology and education. India’s Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) has been a useful medium of promoting cooperation in development of human resources. 

The year 2017 marked 20 years of the signing of the Red Fort Declaration for Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa. The Declaration was signed in March 1997 by the Prime Minister of India Shri Deva Gowda and President of South Africa Nelson Mandela in New Delhi. To commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Red Fort Declaration of Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa an India-South Africa Cultural Extravaganza comprising of a music and dance show, a curtain raiser event was organized by High Commission of India, Pretoria in Pretoria on April 9, 2017. Ms. Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology and spouse representing the Government of South Africa and Mr David van Rooyen, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and spouse graced the occasion with their presence.  Former First Lady, Ms Zanele Dlamini Mbeki, wife of former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki also graced the occasion.  The event was well-attended by members of the diplomatic corps, senior officials of the South Africa government including the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and members of the Indian community.

The year 2018 marks 25 years since the resumption of diplomatic relations with South Africa in 1993.  2018 also marks the 125th year of the Pietermaritzburg railway station ‘incident’ involving Mahatma Gandhi.  Several events are planned to commemorate these landmark events in 2018.

Recent High Level visits

From India

Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi paid an official visit to South Africa from 7-9 July 2016, and held bilateral talks with the President of South Africa Jacob Zuma. The Prime Minister visited Pretoria, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

On the passing away of Dr Nelson Mandela on Dec 5, 2013, the President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee led a multi-party delegation, comprising of UPA Chairperson & Congress Party President, former Commerce and Industry Minister, former Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Smt Sushma Swaraj, the then Members of Parliament from CPI (M) and BSP and other senior officers of the Government of India to attend the State funeral on Dec 10, 2013.

The former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh visited South Africa in March 2013 to attend the 5th BRICS Summit that was held in Durban. The official delegation included the then Finance Minister Shri P. Chidambaram, the then Commerce and Industry Minister Shri Anand Sharma; and other senior officials.

The former President Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil accompanied by the then Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology Shri Sachin Pilot and a trade delegation paid a State Visit to South Africa in May 2012. The delegation visited Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban.

From South Africa

President Zuma, accompanied by Mrs Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, paid a State Visit to India in June 2010. A 200-member strong business delegation as well as senior officials accompanied President Zuma on his visit. President Zuma met the then President, Vice President and Prime Minister; the then MOS for External Affairs, The Chairperson of UPA and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha called on him. Discussions reflected the fraternal warmth and affection as well as the strategic partnership that characterize bilateral relations. President Zuma and his delegation also met Indian business leaders in Mumbai in June 2010.

President Jacob Zuma paid a visit to India in October 2016 to attend the BRICS Summit in Goa. Earlier, in 2015, President Jacob Zuma led a South African delegation to India for the third India-Africa Forum Summit.  He was accompanied by Foreign Minister Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; President Zuma paid a visit to India in March 2012 to attend the 4th BRICS Summit.

Parliamentary visits

The regular Parliamentary exchanges between India and South Africa continued. From South Africa, a joint Parliamentary delegation led by the Speaker Mr. Max Sisulu and the Chairperson, National Council of Provinces, Mr. M.J. Mahlangu, visited India in July, 2012. A goodwill Parliamentary delegation led by the then Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources Shri Pawan Bansal, visited South Africa in October, 2012.

Ministerial visits:

There have been regular exchanges at Ministerial level including, visit of Shri Pratik Prakashbapu Patil, the then MOS(Coal) in October 2012 and Shri Anand Sharma, former Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles in January 2013. Shri Sharad Pawar, then Minister of Agriculture & Food Processing visited South Africa for the 3rd meeting of BRICS Ministers for Agriculture and Agrarian Development on October 28-29, 2013. Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Health Minister participated in the BRICS Health Ministers’ meeting held in Cape Town in November 2013. Shri Shiv Shankar Menon, the former NSA participated in BRICS NSAs meeting held at Cape Town in December 2013. A 28 member Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers’ delegation led by Shri A. R. Rather, the former Finance & Ladakh Affairs Minister, Jammu & Kashmir visited South Africa in July-August 2013. Shri Anand Sharma, leader of INC attended the Presidential Inauguration ceremony on behalf of INC on 23rd May 2014. The CM of Madhya Pradesh Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan accompanied by a high-level delegation visited South Africa on June 7-14, 2014 to promote MP’s Global Investors Summit 2014. The Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Shri Kalraj Mishra visited South Africa on 17-21 Jan 2015. During his visit, he attended the seminar on “India Model on Small Business Development” organised by the Black Business Council, SA and witnessed the signing of an MOU between NSIC and Black Business Council on 19 Jan 2015. He also met the Premier of Western Cape, the Minister of Economic Development and the Minister of Finance, in Cape Town.

The Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, accompanied by a delegation of senior officers and scientists, paid an official visit to South Africa from 4-6 October 2017 and participated in a series of events in Cape Town and Durban organized to commemorate the 20th anniversary of India-South Africa cooperation in Science & Technology.  During the visit he had held a bilateral meeting with South African Minister of Science & Technology Ms. Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor; 8 new projects on astronomy have been launched to help augment the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project led by South Africa, in which Indian scientists are contributing in several design work packages of SKA; a multi-institutional project on HIV Vaccine Research Collaboration has been initiated; and launch of Gandhi-Mandela Grass-Roots Innovation Programme (aimed towards sharing of open source technologies and IPR protection of traditional knowledge systems). The visit opened a new chapter of cooperation in Science & Technology, in areas of astronomy, astro-physics, grass-roots innovation in science and technology, renewable energy and the blue economy.

The Minister of State for External Affairs General (Dr.) v.k. Singh (Retd) visited South Africa from 16 - 18 October 2017 to attend the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) 17th Meeting of the Council of Ministers on 18 October and 8th IBSA Trilateral Ministerial Commission in Durban on 17 October 2017 in Durban. On the side-lines of the meetings, MOS (VKS) had a bilateral meeting with the South African Minister of International Relations & Cooperation, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. MOS (VKS) had an audience with King Goodwill Zwelithini, King of the Zulu nation and gifted two tractors from India to the Zulu People. MOS (VKS), in Durban, inaugurated the Government of India donated kitchen and dining room facilities at the Ramakrishna Abalindi old age home; inaugurated the Government of India donated Information Technology Centre at Phoenix Settlement; and officially opened the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Exhibition. He interacted with members of the Indian community of Durban at a reception hosted in his honour.

Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations & Cooperation of South Africa visited Gandhinagar, India on 7-9 Jan 2015 to attend Pravasi Bhartiya Divas 2015 as the Guest of Honour. On the sidelines of PBD 2015, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane called on the PM Shri Narendra Modi and met with EAM Smt Sushma Swaraj.  Mr. Malusi Gigaba Home Minister of South Africa visited India from 5-9 July 2015. During his visit he met with Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh.

Joint Commission and Foreign Office Consultations

The India-South Africa Joint Commission at the level of Foreign Ministers was set up in 1994.  The 9th session of the India-South Africa Joint Ministerial Commission meeting was held in Durban on 19 May 2015. It was co-chaired by Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs & Overseas Indian Affairs and South Africa’s Minister of International Relations & Cooperation Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.  During the visit, EAM paid a courtesy call on President Jacob Zuma. The next session of the JMC is being planned to be held in 2018.

The 8th session of the India-South Africa Foreign Office Consultations was held in Pretoria in May 2016. The 9th session was held in New Delhi on 18 January 2018.

IBSA & BRICS Initiative

On June 6, 2003, the Foreign Ministers of India, Brazil and South Africa met in Brasilia and agreed to set up a Dialogue Forum for regular consultations. Subsequently, in 2006, this dialogue forum was upgraded to Summit level; five Summits have been held so far, the last in Pretoria in October 2011. The IBSA Trilateral Ministerial meeting was held in New Delhi in March 2011. 16 Sectoral Working Groups have been established in areas such as health, agriculture, education, human settlements, S&T and defence. More recently, the 8th Trilateral Commission Meeting was held in Durban on 17 October 2017. Minister of State for External Affairs General (Dr.) v.k. Singh (Retd) attended the meeting.

South Africa was also admitted as a member of the BRICS grouping and attended the BRICS meeting held in April 2011 at Sanya, attended the BRICS Summit held in March 2012 in New Delhi and South Africa hosted the 5th Summit at Durban in March 2013. Thereafter, the BRICS Summit was held in Fortaleza, Brazil in July 2014 and the 7th BRICS Summit was held in the Russian city of Ufa in July 2015. India was the Chair of the BRICS in 2016 and hosted the BRICS Summit in Goa in October 2016. China was the Chair of the BRICS in 2017 and hosted the BRICS summit in Xiamen, China in September 2017.  South Africa is the chair of the BRICS in 2018 and will host the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa in July 2018.

Commercial & Economic Relations


Commercial relations have flourished since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1993.  India’s imports from SA in 2012-13 and 2013-14 declined mainly due to restrictions on gold imports by GOI. Recent bilateral trade figures are as follows:
Recent bilateral trade figures are as follows:


Figures in   million US$  






(Apr  2017-
Jan 2018)

India’s Exports







India’s Imports







Total Trade








Source: Ministry of Commerce, GOI
There is substantial potential for trade growth between the two countries.  Exports from India to South Africa include vehicles and components thereof, transport equipment, drugs and pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, footwear, dyes and intermediates, chemicals, textiles, rice, gems and jewellery, etc. Import from South Africa to India include gold, steam coal, copper ores & concentrates, phosphoric acid, manganese ore, aluminum ingots & other minerals.


Major Indian investors in South Africa include Tata (automobiles, IT, hospitality and ferrochrome plant), UB Group (breweries, hospitality), Mahindra (automobiles) and a number of pharmaceutical companies, including Ranbaxy and CIPLA, as well as IT companies and some investments in the mining sector. There is also growing South African investments in India led by SAB Miller (breweries), ACSA (upgradation of Mumbai airport), SANLAM and Old Mutual (insurance), ALTECH (set top boxes), Adcock Ingram (pharmaceuticals), Rand Merchant Bank (banking). Annually approx. 1.2 lakh Indian tourists visit South Africa while approx. 60,000 South African tourists visit India.

Shri Anand Sharma, former Commerce & Industry Minster visited South Africa in Sep-Oct 2013 for the 3rd India-Africa Trade Ministers’ meeting. A 25-Member delegation led by Secretary, Mines, visited Cape Town in February 2013 to attend the Mining Indaba (Africa’s largest mining event). Mining delegations from India regularly attend the Mining Indaba in Cape Town.  A 24-member delegation led by Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Steel & Mines visited Cape Town in February 2015 to attend the Mining Indaba. Shri Rajendra Shukla, Minister for Mineral Resources, Energy & Public Affairs, Government of Madhya Pradesh also accompanied the delegation. Shri Susheel Kumar, Secretary (Coal) led the delegation to attend the Mining INDABA in Cape Town from 6-9 February 2017.

            A 16-member delegation led by Special Secretary, Ministry of Mines visited Cape Town in August-September 2016 to participate in the 35th International Geological Congress (IGC). A 42-member delegation led by Chairman, Apparel Export Promotion Council visited Cape Town in March 2013 for the India Clothing and Textile Trade Show.  Shri Arun Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Mines led the 4-member Indian delegation to Cape Town to participate in Mining Indaba 2018 from 5-8 February 2018.

Dr. S.K. Pattanayak, Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare accompanied by a delegation visited South Africa to attend the 2nd India - South Africa Sanitary & Phytosanitary Committee meeting in Cape Town from 28 August to 4 September 2017 and also discussed market access issues with the South African side.

The 1st India-South Africa JWG meeting on ICT was held on November 27, 2017 at Electronics Niketan, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.  A South African delegation attended the Global Conference on Cyber Space 2017 held in New Delhi from 23-24 November, 2017. 

CEOs Forum

            The 3rd India South Africa CEO Forum was held in Pretoria during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to South Africa in July 2016. The next meeting is expected to held in April 2018 in Johannesburg.

70th anniversary of India’s Independence

The High Commission of India, Pretoria celebrated the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence. A grand reception was hosted by High Commissioner on 15 August. Dr Siyabnonga Cwele, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services was the Chief Guest and represented the Government of South Africa. Mr Enver Surty, Deputy Minister of Basic Education and Mr Andries Nel, Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Government of South Africa senior government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and the diaspora attended the reception.  About 350 guests were present. A recital by violin maestro, Dr L Subramaniam was the highlight of the cultural entertainment which also formed a curtain raiser programme for the ‘India-South Africa Shared History’ celebrations.  A flag-hoisting ceremony was held in the Chancery premises in the morning which was attended by friends of India and their families, officials from DIRCO India desk and the members of the High Commission and their families. 

Cultural Relations

With the help of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), an intensive programme of cultural exchanges is organised throughout South Africa including scholarships for South African nationals. In addition to such cultural programming, a ‘Shared Histories’ Festival organized as a public-private partnership is also held, which held its 10th edition in 2016.

The Department of Arts and Culture sent cultural troupe to India to participate in the International Dance and Music Festival held January 2016.

The SA Minister of Arts & Culture Mr. Pallo Jordan visited India in December 2007 during which he also inaugurated a major South African art exhibition. Mrs. Ambika Soni, the then Minister for Tourism and Culture visited South Africa in August 2008 and signed the Programme of Cooperation (POC) in Arts and Culture.

A Festival of India in South Africa was jointly organized by Department of Arts and Culture South Africa and High Commission in Pretoria during June-August 2011 & a Festival of South Africa in India was organized in February-April 2013 under the POC. A Festival of India in South Africa was jointly organized by High Commission in Pretoria and Department of Arts and Culture of South Africa during July-August 2014 commemorating 20 years of our diplomatic relations and also 100 years of Gandhiji’s return to India from South Africa.

South Africa invited an Indian cultural troupe to participate in the Kalahari desert festival in the Kalahari area of South Africa from 21-24 March 2018.  In addition to participating in the Kalahari desert festival, the troupe also performed in Nelspruit and Cape Town in South Africa.

A ten member Rajasthani folk music/dance group from India led by Ms. Malka, sponsored by ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations), visited South Africa to participate in the Kalahari Desert Festival from 21 to 24 March 2018. On the invitation of Department of Culture, Sports and Recreation, Mpumalanga Provincial Government, the group performed in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga on 17 March 2018 and in Cape Town from 24-27 March 2018.


The 9th World Hindi Conference was held in September 2012 at Johannesburg. 
International Yoga Day is celebrated on 21 June by the Mission/Posts in collaboration/association with local organisations in cities across South Africa. The 3rd International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated across South Africa in various cities from 14 June to 25 June 2017 by the Mission and three Consulates in collaboration/assistance with local associations and organisations. Events such as Paint the T-shirt with Yoga asana for young children, quiz on yoga, essay writing competition, lectures on yoga were part of the celebration in addition to Yoga day performances at historic venues in Pietermaritzburg, Johannesburg, Tolstoy Farm, Durban, Chatsworth, Polokwane and Lenasia.  Yoga performance was organised on board INS Tarkash by the crew in Cape Town on 21 June 2017.


ITEC / ICCR scholarships

The ITEC programme has contributed to improving skills and enhancing knowledge of nearly 1000 South African nationals since 1993-94, in areas such as Rural Development, Agriculture, Information and Communication Technology, Poverty Alleviation, Mass Communication, Journalism, Entrepreneurship and other multi-skill development training aimed at increasing competiveness in the job market.

In the Financial Year 2017-18, under ITEC, 80 slots were allocated to South Africa, out of which 30 slots were utilized. ICCR offered a total of 52 slots to South Africa in 2017-18 out of which 48 have been utilized. ITEC Day was celebrated at the Chancery in Pretoria on 13 September 2017. Among the invited guests were participants in the ITEC programme (alumni) and representatives of Departments of the Government of South Africa including: Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) (India desk) and (Diplomatic Training and International School); Public Service Administration (DPSA); Agriculture; Telecommunications and Postal Services; Trade & Industry (The DTI); Energy; Higher Education and Training; SA Navy Training; Transport; Vaal University of Technology; Council for Geoscience; Public works, National Treasury and Gauteng Department of Finance.

Indian Community

The major part of the Indian origin community came to South Africa from 1860 onwards as farm labour to serve as field hands and mill operatives in the sugar and other agricultural plantations of Natal (which was then a British colony). Most of these initial migrants were from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh with some from eastern UP and Bihar. A second wave of Indians came after 1880. These were the “passenger Indians” – so-called because they paid their fares as passengers on board a steamship bound for South Africa. This was the community of traders who mainly hailed from Gujarat.

The South African Indian origin community numbers around 1.5 million and constitutes about 3% of South Africa’s total population. About 80% of the Indian community lives in the province of KwaZulu Natal, about 15% in the Gauteng (previously Transvaal) area and the remaining 5% in Cape Town. South Africans of Indian origin are well-represented in Government, business, media, legal and other professions. The year 2010 marked the 150th anniversary of the first arrival of Indians in South Africa. 2014 marked 100 years of Gandhiji’s final departure to India from South Africa; he reached India on 9th Jan 1915; this date is now commemorated annually as Pravasi Bhartiya Divas.

Useful Resources

Website of High Commission of India: http://www.hcipretoria.gov.in/


26th March, 2018