Asia-Africa Growth Corridor
The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor is an India-Japan-Africa economic cooperation aimed at the socio-economic development of Africa and Asia. The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor aims to expand infrastructure and digital connectivity in Africa through Indo-Japan collaboration. It will visualize a people-centric sustainable growth strategy by engaging various stakeholders.
The priority areas will be health and pharmaceuticals, disaster management, agriculture, and Agro-processing, and skill enhancement. Japan’s contribution to the project will be its advanced technology and ability to build quality infrastructure, while India will bring in its expertise of working in Africa. Unlike China’s OBOR project Asia Africa Growth Corridor is conceived as an open programme that will be based on consultations and keep people as the centerpiece rather than just economic and trade ties.
What is hampering the growth of Africa?
Many factors are holding the growth of Africa and affecting its economy, such as-
- A low level of private investment is withholding the growth of Africa
- Private investors are magnetized by using the restricted state funding using the European investment fund (EIF) model
- The European investment fund is comprised of subsidizing investment, low collateral needs, loss protection, diminished interest rate, guarantee and lease, and capital relief
- Owing to chancy projects on long gestation projects, and there have been an unexcited response from investors
Four center area of AAGC:
- Enhancing capacity and skills.
- People-to-People partnership.
- Development and Cooperation Projects.
- Institutional Connectivity and Quality Infrastructure.
Contribution of India and Japan in AAGC and Africa
India has always had contributed to Africa, with huge human and financial resources. The recently held India-Africa Growth Summit in New Delhi joined by heads of state of 54 countries was a great diplomatic success that revitalized and reinforced ties between both entities. There were important announcements of trade and economy, that included a $10 billion concessional credit line offer.
India has an edacious appetite for natural resources and is in quest of expanding its markets. It has made crucial strides to counter China’s juggernaut and reported ‘neo-colonialism’. At the same time, India’s contribution to the development of the social sector of Africa through the Pan Africa e-network has been vital in cementing such strong ties between the Indian subcontinent and the African continent. The EXIM Bank is the lead organization for carrying out the development credit tasks. India has a unique distinction in providing affordable, adaptable technology. It is also working on project execution and building technical capacities in various developing countries in the region.
Japan’s robust developmental assistance plays a major complementary role in this region. Japan has expertise in planning, delivering, and planning hardware infrastructure. It enjoys a leading edge in research and development areas. It has the capacity to transfer capabilities for strengthening supply chains in the infrastructure projects and manufacturing sector.
Convergence of interests of India and Japan
- Exclusion of terrorism
- Sustained economic growth
- Freedom of navigation in the sea lines of communication
- Chinese rising belligerence and hegemony in the Asian region
Hence, the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor is set to be a fine-tuned vision and agenda of both governments, aligning with their own development priorities.
Is Asia-Africa growth corridor is the answer of China's OBOR?
The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor has been depicted as a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China’s speculation will expand its berthing rights at the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka to finally account for its own military facilities.
China is paranoid with the “Malacca Dilemma” where it suspects that at the time of any crisis, the country’s main access to energy can be cut off by a rival power via the narrow straits of Sumatra and Malaysia. Clearly, it is concerned about security issues and is obstinate to find alternative routes (China Pakistan Economic Corridor serves that purpose partly). 76 years after attacking the US at Pearl Harbor following an oil&gas embargo, Japan also fears a saber-rattling neighbour controlling its access to trade and resources. For India, too, China’s decision to build an economic corridor with Pakistan through disputed Kashmir is symptomatic of a far greater Chinese revisionism and a break with the current rules-based system.
The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor provides a benign choice to Belt and Road Initiative. Japan enjoys a greater trust in that region. Investing in strategic infrastructure projects such as ports, rails, and telecommunications would find interested customers in countries seeking to minimize their dependence on individual trading partners. Its past experiences would alleviate the local perceptions of foreign control. Matching Japan’s skills and capital, India’s own size and experience with economic development has challenged it to pursue key technologies – be they in pharmacology or solar energy – on a mass scale.
Sooner rather than later it has been realized in Indian diplomatic circles that Africa is a region that India can’t afford to ignore anymore which has been noticed in increasing bilateral and multilateral visits. Huge complementarities exist to strengthen bilateral collaboration in diverse areas and upgrade India-Africa engagement. It is high time that the goodwill enjoyed by India among African nations should be leveraged to our advantage through political and economic diplomacy.
New Delhi will need to begin delivering on the ground if the India-Africa partnership has to move beyond high-level visits. India’s investment in Africa needs to diversify and expand towards a ‘broad’ range and not remain constrained to traditional sectors of investments. In order to keep the momentum of building political and economic ties with this increasingly important region, steps should be taken towards funding and tailoring joint projects for the sustainable development of Africa.