India’s alliance with Japan is set to play a key role in the proposed ‘Asia Africa Growth Corridor’ (AAGC) as the island country looks to invest close to $200 billion in the proposed project.
An announcement on the same is expected to be made in the month of September this year. Japan has already invested about $32 billion in infrastructure projects in Africa. India is working on its investment plans and should be able to decide in the next few months. A detailed plan for the corridor should also be in place by then.
The idea of AAGC emerged in the joint declaration issued by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in November 2016.
The four main components of AAGC listed in the vision document include:
i) Development and co-operation projects,
ii) Quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity,
iii) Capacity and skill enhancement and
iv) People-to-people partnership
Further, AAGC include human resource training, setting up pan Africa E-network, developing capacities to sustain infrastructure, greenfield projects, investment opportunities, renewable energy, power grids, agriculture and agro processing, disaster management, joint venture projects and private sector financing.
AAFC will give priority to development projects in health and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro-processing, disaster management and skill enhancement. The AAGC Vision Study, which will lay a broad roadmap for development of the project, will use geographical simulation model (GSM) to bring out the economic gains for Africa through its integration with India, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania.
India’s outreach programme for Africa comes at a time when China is implementing its ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative by which it aims to link itself with markets in Europe and Africa through Asian countries and the Indian Ocean.
The AAGC is an attempt to create a “free and open Indo-Pacific region” by rediscovering ancient sea-routes and creating new sea corridors that will link the African continent with India and countries in South-Asia and South-East Asia. The project stakeholders hope the sea corridors will be “low-cost” and have “less carbon footprint” when compared to a land corridor. For instance, under the AAGC, there is a plan to connect ports in Jamnagar (Gujarat) with Djibouti in the Gulf of Eden.
Japan’s contribution to the project will be its state-of-the-art technology and ability to build quality infrastructure, while India will bring in its expertise of working in Africa. The private sector of both countries are expected to play big role by coming together to form joint-ventures and consortiums, to take up infrastructure, power or agribusiness projects in Africa.