The Big Picture: Asia-Africa growth corridor – Can it be a game changer?
Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi recently pushed for an Asia-Africa Growth Corridor supported by Japan and India coming up days after China launched its ambitious OBOR initiative taking off. An annual meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) was held recently in Gandhinagar, Gujarat where he released a vision document on the Asia Africa Growth Corridor.
The AAGC is a roadmap for opportunities and aspirations in Asia and Africa. It was launched with an aim to prioritize development projects in health and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro-processing, disaster management and skill enhancement. The idea of AAGC had emerged in the Joint Declaration issued by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in November 2016. It will focus on people centric sustainable growth strategy details of which would be evolved through a process of detailed consultation across Asia and Africa.
China’s OBOR and AAGC are qualitatively different. AAGC aims to be an efficient and sustainable mechanism for linking economies, industries and institutions, ideas and people in Africa and Asia in an inclusive manner. There is vast and untapped potential in both Asia and Africa which needs to be explored for shared growth, development, peace, prosperity and stability of these regions.
Four main components of AAGC are:
- Development and cooperation projects
- Quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity
- Capacity and skill enhancement
- People to people partnerships
If Africa looks towards US or Europe for these things, it is very expensive. So, India and Japan are the best in terms of compatibility of interest for Africa. China’s OBOR is concentrated on Eurasian mainland for trade by creating trade infrastructure because China has huge reserves built by trade surplus over the years which has to be balanced globally. AAGC is Indian Ocean oriented initiative basically for the African people and their priorities. India is willing to assist Africa as per its priorities and requirements whereas China is more self-centered approach.
As far as engaging more partners is concerned, South Africa is undoubtedly India’s strategic partner. But South Africa’s relationship with China also needs to be monitored and its role in unfolding strategy of China in Africa. Japan’s major flagship conference took place in Kenya whereas China’s major flagship conference took place in South Africa. So, these are the indicators for India to see which countries it can depend upon or bring in to AAGC.
Some of the expected outcomes are as follows:
- Effective mobilization of financial resources
- Alignment with socio-economic development and development strategies of partner countries and regions;
- Application of high-quality standards in terms of compliance with international standards established to mitigate environmental and social impact
- Providing quality infrastructure and taking into account various aspects of economic efficiency and durability, inclusiveness, safety and disaster-resilience, sustainability as well as convenience and amenities
- Contribution to the local society and economy.
China is rapidly expanding itself in Africa therefore, India and Japan do not have luxury of time. They both should immediately initiate a few joint pilot projects involving the companies of India, Japan and a few African countries in identified areas like health care, agriculture and blue economy.