Today marks the one year anniversary when our family embarked on the next big step of our lives. One year ago on the 17th of August 2015, our family of four and dog Rex came to New Delhi, India. Nominated by H.E President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as the Ambassador of Mali to India ( and over 9 other South East Asian countries), we came here to see how we could best serve Mali on foreign soil. It has been a great year both on a professional and personal level. While the post is based in New Delhi, India, we have jurisdiction over 9 other Asian countries: Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand.
For me this was a very personal journey. A homecoming of sorts. I am an Indian and after spending 5 years in Mali where our children/I got to learn the culture/language, it was a such a great opportunity for us to come here and have our kids experience the Indian side of their heritage.
Soon after we came in August, we had the grand opportunity to welcome the First Lady of Mali, H.E Madame Keita Aminata Maiga as she took part in the 2015 Call to Action Summit, a summit to fight against maternal and neonatal infant mortality. With a great kick off to our role here in India, we were excited to see what other fresh opportunities we could grow for our Malians in these countries and also what investment/business prospects we could bring to Mali.
Yeah presented his credentials to the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony held in Rashtrapati Bhavan ( the President’s house) on 2nd September, 2015. It was a great opportunity for Yeah to visit one on one with the President and discuss with him how India and Mali could grow their relationship in the security, economic and tourism aspect. In an move to shine a lamp on Mali’s international stamp in India, Yeah was one of the few Ambassadors who got to meet with the Vice President of India, H.E Mr. Hamid Ansari MOHAMMAD. The discussion focused on the political and security situation in Mali and ways to consider to strengthen multifaceted cooperation between India and Mali. Yeah also visited with the Honourable Amar Sinha, Secretary of Economic Relations of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India in order to deepen cooperation between Mali and India. He further met with the the very dynamic Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation Dr. Mahesh Sharma to discuss strengthening cooperation between the India and Mali in the area of tourism especially the promotion of Timbuktu.
One of the biggest events of our year long tenure was the visit of the President of Mali, H.E Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, at the invitation of the Indian Prime Minister for the 3rd India-Africa Summit. The President was accompanied by his spouse and a high level delegation, including several Ministers and high level officials. During his visit our President had an opportunity to exchange with Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi and also the Honorable President. The Malian President extended an invitation for bilateral exchange between the two countries. During this time, the first lady also had an opportunity to visit the historic Swaminarayan Akshardham temple on the banks of river Yamuna here to get a sense of Indian culture, art, wisdom, heritage and values. This visit was an amazing yet hectic time. However it was a grand success. The President, spouse and his team were truly pleased with everything. And this visit opened the door wider for future successful collaborations between Mali and India.
One big change that also happened was that soon after Yeah presented his credentials in Indonesia, the government of Indonesia responded by allowing Malians after March 10, 2016 to get a visa on arrival in Indonesia. As a sign of reciprocity, Mali also extended the same courtesy to Indonesians entering Mali.
Another key focus of our efforts here is to bring attention to Mali’s cotton industry. Currently Mali’s cotton is one of the best cotton in the world. Mali exports 13% of its cotton to India and 16% to Bangladesh. As part of his mission to help grow the cotton industry in Mali, Yeah visited the textile entrepreneurs of Tamil Nadu. As part of our mission, he took a delegation of key members to visit government members and industry leaders in Mali. And this coming year he will host a visit of these Indian entrepreneurs to visit the CMDT of Mali.
Yeah was also received by the Mayor of Panaji, the capital of the state of Goa, India. Goa is a major tourist destination. Discussions focused on the possibility of twinning between a community in Mali and Goa in India and sharing best local governance practices.
Furthermore, in addition to all these great things happening, throughout the past year Yeah has presented his credentials to the heads of state in 7 other countries: Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nepal, Brunei, Bangladesh and Singapore. By presenting his credentials to these world leaders, it now validates the presence of an Ambassador of Mali in these countries, allowing Yeah to better serve Malians living in these countries and also be able to grow investments/relations between Mali and the respective nations. In each of these countries, Yeah has met with business investors and leaders to share with them the bright prospects for doing business in Mali.
This year has been nothing short of amazing. We came into this role, when the Embassy of Mali in India had been without an Ambassador for almost 2 years. Hence many key steps were slowed down that could be done to further the lives of Malians in these countries and to grow investment opportunities between Mali and these countries. Yeah has really pushed the Embassy and Mali to the forefront. The Embassy website (www.maliembassy.co.in) too has been revamped completely to show a fresh, beautiful, faster site and it now has a place where Malians, living in the countries we serve, can register.
The coming year holds much promise of more that can be done and that will be done to raise Mali’s profile in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand. We are excited. The best is yet to come!