President Tsai embarks on first trip to Africa

President Tsai embarks on first trip to Africa for a four-day, three-night visit to Swaziland. (Photo courtesy of CNA, 2018.4.17)

Taipei, April 17 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) departed Tuesday for a four-day, three-night visit to Swaziland, her first trip to Africa since assuming office in May 2016.

The president is traveling on a direct flight, with no stopovers, and is expected to arrive in the southern Africa kingdom at around 3:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

Later in the evening, Tsai will hold talks with King Mswati III and sign a joint communique before attending a state dinner hosted by the king.

On Thursday, Tsai will attend a celebration marking 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries and the Swazi king’s 50th birthday, as well as the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence.

She will present Swaziland with gifts from one of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes, as well as five cows, which represent wealth in the southern Africa kingdom and are a traditional ceremonial gift.

The landlocked nation’s economy is primarily based on agriculture, as 80 percent of its people are engaged in some form of agricultural or pastoral activities, and so cows are regarded as prized possessions, according to the Presidential Office.

During her stay in Swaziland, the president and her delegation will also meet with local officials and inspect many of the medical, agricultural and educational initiatives that Taiwan has undertaken there.

There will also be meetings with members of the overseas Taiwanese community and business people in southern Africa.

On the last day of the visit, Tsai will host a press reception prior to a luncheon with the Swazi king, after which they will take a safari together before she leaves on her return trip to Taiwan.

Tsai is expected to arrive home at around noon Saturday.

(By Chang Liang-chih and Y.F. Low)