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The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor or AAGC is an economic cooperation agreement between the governments of India and Japan.
India on 25 May 2017 launched a vision document for Asia-Africa Growth Corridor or AAGC at the African Development Bank meeting in Gujarat. It aims for Indo-Japanese collaboration to develop quality infrastructure in Africa, complemented by digital connectivity.
The vision document is a study jointly produced by three research institutions of India and Japan in consultation with other Asian and African think tanks.
It envisages closer engagement between India and Africa for “sustainable and innovative development”. The AAGC will envisage people centric sustainable growth strategy, details of which would be evolved through a process of detailed consultation across Asia and Africa.
It will be anchored to four pillars:
Development and cooperation projects;
Quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity;
Enhancing capacities and skills and
It will accord priority to development projects in health and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro-processing, disaster management, and skill enhancement.
It will have special focus on Africa, India and South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania.
How is it different from China’s OBOR? The two projects- AAGC and OBOR are qualitatively different in their approach.
While China through OBOR concentrates on infrastructure and cheque-book diplomacy. OBOR is meant to growth trade by building trade infra be it on land route or maritime. AAGC is to promote a broader spectrum of cooperation projects and programes focused on the development of Africa’s human resources.
Projects under AAGC are people oriented. They are synchronized with African priorities be it in health, education, skill training etc. While OBOR is more of infra centric whether sustainable or non sustainable.
The partnership is based on the strength India has in Africa which is more people to people contact, network based strength rather than rebalancing business by pushing investment out of huge forex reserves.
While China is in infra, the AAGC has a totally different orientation. It is suitably modest.
China’ OBOR is oriented towards Eurasian mainland while AAGC is maritime oriented.
AAGC is much more collaborative and its focus on capacity building unlike OBOR initiative.
The willingness of India to partner with Japan to assist Africa is different from China’s methods of going alone.
Can it be a game changer?
The potential for the partnership to become a game changer is huge because of following factors-
Commonness of our needs. India’s strengths being Africa’s needs.
The huge size of India and Africa. Focus of population is shifting in Africa. This means there will be massive requirements for capacity building.
Compatibility the India and Africa share.
Partnership with Japan is itself going to be highly beneficial. While Japan has its own strength of finance, India has the ability to deliver.
Centuries of relationship with Africa, India is already running various programmes running in India for Africans like the Barefoot college etc. All this things will come very handy.
In past decades or so India an Africa has connected more effectively. African Development Bank holding annual meeting in Gujarat and the success of India Africa forum summit highlights the strengthening relationship between India and Africa.
Who else can we get on board?
US can be specifically in agriculture, research and development. But with Mr. Trump as President such partnership becomes difficult
South Africa can also be involved. But its relation with china must be taken into account as big flagship project of China appears to be in South Africa.
Germany and France- both have been active in Africa, both have technology, fund and both the nations have close relation with India.
China is rapidly expanding its footprint in Africa. They have been investing heavily in the Africa. Even small sectors like poultry have been taken over by China. So India and Japan do not have the luxury of time.
India and Japan should immediately initiate a few joint pilot projects involving the companies of India, Japan and a few African countries in identified areas such as health care, agriculture and blue economy.
They should increase the scope of their development projects, create synergy among themselves and engage proactively with other willing partners.
Projects already successful in India like neem coated urea, solar plants, DBT, irrigation etc. – all such can be implemented in Africa at the earliest.
India should also be open minded to what she can learn from African nations. For example- the mobile based payment system of Kenya.
People to people contact- Govt should recognize that in India we need to do lots of work regarding sensitization and changing the mindset of people here towards Africa. Or else the basic objective of people centric relationship wont get fulfilled.
It is not just the government that will have to so whatever it can to improve our quality of relation with Africa, Business men, corporates must also be incentivised.
AAGC is of course a win-win partnership for both India and Africa. It will provide new force and dynamism to Asia-Africa relationship. However, timing is of essence when AAGC is concerned and thus India needs to expedite.
Africa is trying to connect to us and it is our responsibility to be considerate, show compassion and respect towards Africa
Connecting the dots:
The vision document Asia Africa Growth Corridor was launched by India and Japan soon after the launch of China’s OBOR initiative. Discuss the differences between the two and the potential the AAGC holds to be a game changer in the Africa-Asian relationship.
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