Landlocked in the heart of Africa, the Central African Republic is seeking Indian investors to mine its abundant natural resources ranging from oil, uranium and lithium to gold, diamonds, iron ore and copper.
The African nation's Minister for Economy Lea Doumta, who led a delegation on a two-day visit here, said her country is "mighty impressed" with India's growth and development model and is keen to emulate it.
"We see India as a role model and are keen to partner with its government and companies in our economic progress," she told PTI here.
Bordered by Cameroon, Chad, the two Congos, and the two Sudans, the Central African Republic is one of the poorest nations despite its abundant natural resources.
According to the World Bank, the former French colony has 470 minerals, with oil, gold and diamonds having the greatest potential. Diamonds account for nearly half of the country's total export earnings.
A nation comparable to the size of Ukraine has the largest reserve of iron ore in the world and the best quality of rare wood and timber across the globe.
"We have all the resources but not enough technological and financial resources to mine them," she said.
The country also has uranium, iron ore, copper and manganese deposits.
"We want the Indian government and its companies to help us build infrastructure like roads as well as in sustainable exploitation of our mineral wealth," she said. "India needs natural resources to feed its vast expanding economy and we need their technical know-how. It's a win-win partnership for both."
Besides iron ore, the Central African Republic also has deposits of lithium -- the critical component used in batteries for electric vehicles or EVs.
India is short on lithium and needs to import it for its fast-expanding EV fleet.
Indian companies such as mining conglomerate Vedanta Ltd can come and look at resources in the country, she said, adding the Central African Republic is mapping its mineral wealth.
Situated on a fertile plateau and abundant in water resources, the Central African Republic has considerable agricultural potential and is now throwing open its land rights to the outside world, wherein investors can buy large land parcels online, she said, adding it is only the second country in the world that has Bitcoin as an official currency and such purchases can be done in Bitcoins.
During the visit, the African nation signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bengaluru-based EV manufacturer Pravaig Dynamics.
Under the MoU, the company can access strategic resources such as lithium and rhodium and also operate the country's first special economic zone (SEZ).
Doumta, the fourth-senior most minister in the government, said her country was also keen to open an embassy in New Delhi and wants India to do so in Bangui.
Currently, anyone visiting India has to seek a visa from the Indian embassy in neighbouring countries like Cameroon.
Her delegation included Feikeram Thierry, General Director of Mines; Samba Mokamende Ghilsain, General Director of Infrastructure; and Ouilibona Cyprien, General Director of Industry.
She said her country also plans to tokenise all the available agricultural land in the nation.