About Us India South Africa Relations

High Commission of India


India - South Africa Relations

Historical Background

India’s links with the struggle for freedom and justice in South Africa date back to the period during which Mahatma Gandhi started his Satyagraha movement in South Africa over a century ago. India was also at the forefront of the international community in its support to the anti-apartheid 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 ANC maintained a representative office in New Delhi from the 1960s onwards. India actively worked for the AFRICA Fund to sustain the struggle through support to the frontline countries.

Following talks between the then South African Government and the ANC, India’s relations with South Africa were restored after a gap of over four decades with the opening of a Cultural Centre in Johannesburg in May 1993. An Agreement establishing full diplomatic and consular relations with South Africa was signed on 22 November 1993 during the visit of the then South African Foreign Minister, Pik Botha, to 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. South Africa established its High Commission in Delhi and opened a Consulate General in Mumbai  in April 1994.

Political Relations

India and South Africa established a strategic partnership in March 1997. 2017 marked 20 years of our Strategic Partnership and 2018 marked 25 years since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with South Africa. 2018 also marked 125 years since the Pietermaritzburg ‘incident’ involving Mahatma Gandhi. 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, both bilaterally and through BRICS, IBSA and other Fora.  A number of bilateral agreements have been concluded between the two countries since the resumption of diplomatic relations in 1993 in diverse areas ranging from economic and commercial cooperation, defence, culture, heath, human settlements, public administration and science and technology. India’s Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) has been a useful medium of promoting cooperation in development of human resources. 

Recent High Level Visits

The President of South Africa, Mr Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa paid a State Visit to India on 25-26 January 2019.  President Ramaphosa was the Chief Guest at the 70th Republic Day celebrations on 26 January 2019 in New Delhi. President Jacob Zuma attended the 8th BRICS Summit in Goa, India on 15-16 October 2016. President Zuma also led a South African delegation to India for the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit from 27-29 October, 2015.

Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi paid an official visit to South Africa to participate in the 10th BRICS Summit on 25-27 July, 2018.  Earlier, Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi paid an official visit to South Africa from July 7-9, 2016.

Ministerial visits/Meetings

The External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj(EAM) visited South Africa from 3-7 June, 2018.  EAM participated in the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Pretoria on 4 June, 2018.  EAM also participated in the IBSA Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Pretoria on 4 June, 2018. General (Dr) v.k. Singh (Retd), Minister of State for External Affairs visited South Africa to attend the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) 17th Meeting of the Council of Ministers and 8th IBSA Trilateral Ministerial Commission in Durban from 16-18 October 2018. Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (EFCC) visited South Africa on 17-18 May 2018 to participate in the 4th Meeting of BRICS Environment Ministers in Durban. Shri R.K. Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power visited South Africa from 26-29 June 2018 to attend the 3rd Meeting of BRICS Energy Ministers at Sandton. Shri C. R. Chaudhary, Minister of State, Commerce & Industry visited South Africa 3-5 July 2018 to attend the 3rd BRICS Industry Ministers Meeting and 8th BRICS Trade Ministers Meeting in Gauteng Province.  Shri Satya Pal Singh, Minister of State, Human Resource Development visited South Africa from 5-12 July 2018 to attend the BRICS Education Ministers Meeting in Cape Town. Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda, Minister of Health & Family Welfare  visited South Africa from18-20 July 2018 to attend 8th BRICS Health Ministers Meeting in Durban. Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar,  Minister of State (Independent Charge), Labour & Employment  visited South Africa from 1-4 August 2018 to attend the 2nd BRICS Employment Working Group Meeting and BRICS Labour & Employment Ministerial Meeting in Durban.  Shri Manoj Sinha, Minister of State (IC), Ministry of Communication visited South Africa from 13-16 September 2018 to participate in the 4th BRICS Ministers of Communication Meeting in Durban.  Shri K.J. Alphons, Minister of Tourism  visited South Africa from 21-23 October 2018 to attend the 2nd IORA Tourism Ministers Meeting in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.

Parliamentary visits

Six South African Members of Parliament of Indian origin attended the first PIO-Parliamentarian Conference held on 9 January 2018 in New Delhi.

Joint Ministerial Commission and Foreign Office Consultations 

The 9th session of India-South Africa Joint Ministerial Commission meeting was held in Durban on 19 May 2015. The 9th Foreign Office Consultation was held on 18-19 January 2018 in New Delhi.

Defence Cooperation

The Defence Cooperation between India and South Africa officially commenced in 1996 with the signing of an MoU on “Cooperation in the field of Defence Equipment” which was replaced by an MoU on “Defence Cooperation” in 2000. Consequently, an India-South Africa Joint Defence Committee (JDC) co-chaired by the Defence Secretaries of both countries was instituted. The latest (8th) edition of JDC was held in India from 5 to 7 December 2017, in Delhi. Indian Naval Ships and Sailing Vessels also regularly make port calls to South Africa. IN Ships Tarkash and Kolkata visited Cape Town from 1 to 13 October 2018 and participated in the 6th IBSA Maritime Exercise (IBSAMAR). INSV Tarini visited Cape Town from 2-14 March 2018 as part of Navika Sagar Parikrama.   The South African Army participated in the Multinational Field Training Exercise for African Nations conducted by Indian Army at Pune in March 2019.

Development Cooperation

To address the shortage of skills among South Africans which is a national priority of the Government of South Africa, an MoU on the setting up of the Gandhi-Mandela Centre of Specialisation for Artisan Skills” in South Africa was signed during the Prime Minister’s visit to South Africa in July 2018.  The Centre, with the collaboration of Hindustan Machine Tools Limited (HMTL) will offer technical expertise, training material, machines and equipment as well as interactive ICT equipment for video conferencing in a multi-skills formation comprising of four skills: mechanical fitter, electrician, boilermaker and millwright for all of which there is demand in South Africa. The soft launch of the Gandhi-Mandela Centre of Specialisation for Artisan Skills took place in Pretoria on  8 October 2018.

Commercial & Economic Relations

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

Figures in   million US$  






2018- 2019

India’s Exports







India’s Imports







Total Trade







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. Imports from South Africa to India include gold, steam coal, copper ores & concentrates, phosphoric acid, manganese ore, aluminum ingots & other minerals.

India-South Africa Business Summit

To explore additional areas of cooperation for growth of bilateral trade and investment, the India-South Africa Business Summit (ISABS) 2018 was held in Sandton, Johannesburg from 29-30 April, 2018. The Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation Minister (CIM) of India, Shri Suresh Prabhu led the Indian delegation for this Summit.  Dr Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises and Ms Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Small Business Enterprises, represented the South African Government at the Summit. The Premier of Gauteng province, Mr David Makhura also participated in the event.  An Invest in India Business Forum (IIBF) was held at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg on 12-13 November 2018 to follow-up on the ISABS 2018, the visit of  the Minister of Food Processing Industries to South Africa in June 2018 and to familiarize the potential South African investors with the investment and business friendly  India. Mr.Bulelani Magwanishe, the South African Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry visited India from 25-26 June 2018 on an investment mission to India. This visit follows on the South Africa – India Business Summit held in Sandton in April 2018.  

CEOs Forum

The third India-South Africa CEOs forum was held in Pretoria during the visit of Prime Minister of India to South Africa. During the meeting of the India-South Africa CEO’s Forum, 8 MoUs were signed. The fourth meeting was held in Sandton, Johannesburg in the margins of the India-South Africa Business Summit from 29-30 April 2018.

Science and Technology

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Hon. Union Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, accompanied by a delegation of senior officials and scientists, paid an official visit to South Africa and participated in a series of events organized in Cape Town and Durban from 4-6 October 2017 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of India-South Africa Cooperation in Science & Technology.  The Agreement was renewed for a further period of three years during the visit.


For the financial year 2018-19, 70 slots have been allocated to South Africa out of which 23 have been utilized till date. ICCR offered a total of 52 slots to South Africa out of which  23 were utilized in 2018-19. For the financial year 2019-20, 50 ITEC slots have been allocated to South Africa . ICCR offered a total of 52 slots to South Africa.

Cultural Relations

With the help of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), an intensive programme of cultural exchanges are 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 organised. It held its eleventh edition in 2017 in Johannesburg. A Festival of India in South Africa was jointly organized by the High Commission of India in Pretoria and Department of Arts and Culture of South Africa during July-August 2014 commemorating 20 years of our diplomatic relations. In 2018-2019, Gandhi @ 150 celebrations in honor of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi are being  organized all over South Africa . A Festival of India in South Africa was held in September 2019 featuring dance and music troupes.

Indian Community

The South African Indian origin community numbers around 1.6 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.


September 2019