Vice President leaves on visit to three African nations

A special aircraft carrying the vice president and the accompanying delegation left New Delhi for the Zambian capital Lusaka on the first leg of the seven-day trip. After two days in Zambia, Ansari will leave for neighbouring Malawi and Botswana, before returning to India Jan 12.

He was accompanied by Minister of State for Labour and Employment Harish Rawat, members of parliament and a business delegation.

This is one of the highest-level visits from India to the three African countries in recent years. Zambian President Rupiah Banda had attended the India Africa Forum Summit in April 2008, when he was vice president.

India is likely to sign a number of agreements with Zambia, including one for extending a line of credit of $50 million for the Itezhi Tezhi hydropower project. Tata Africa holding has formed a joint venture with Zambia Electricity Supply Company to carry out the project.

There is substantial Indian investment in Zambia's mining sector, with Vedanta Resources owning a majority stake in the Konkola Copper mine, the largest mining company in the southern African country.

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