What are the key strategic reasons behind India's support towards Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) Project. What are the major challenges? Critically discuss.
Asia-Africa Growth Corridor is an economic cooperation agreement between the government of India and Japan launched in May 2017 with a view to building projects in health and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro-processing, disaster management and skill development along with enhancing research and development capacities in Africa. It was started with an inherent aim to discover the sea routes and creating new corridors in the sea to link African nations with India and countries of South Asia and South East Asia. Indian contribution will be focused on modernising its own sea-ports falling under Sagarmala Project and development of sea ports in Africa while Japan will chip in its state of the art technology and infrastructural capabilities. The detailed plan for the same has been laid out by Research and Information System for Developing Countries RIS) New Delhi, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) Jakarta, and Institute of Developing Economies (IDE-JETRO) of Tokyo. The project is spread over 4 main peripherals:
- Development and cooperation projects
- Quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity
- Capacity and skill enhancement
- People to people partnerships
- It provides an access to huge resources of minerals of Africa both for India and Japan.
- It is a robust plan to counter the OBOR initiative of China after its refusal to join the latter due to sovereignty concerns.
- The African nations on east coast fall in the Indian maritime strategic neighbourhood and thus have huge potential for development of India’s international trade.
- It is an effort in the right direction to counter the Chinese stronghold in the continent.
- It involves a sizeable contribution from the private sectors of India, Japan and Africa as against China’s OBOR which is purely government funded. This gives it an edge over the latter as more capital inflows from the private sector will see better and robust facilities.
- China is the largest trading partner of Africa and it will be really difficult for India to establish a significant footprint.
- Many African nations are involved in ethnic strife and conflict. This will make it even more difficult to establish its mark.
The project is still in development stages and it will take time fully unleash it potential to integrate Asia and Africa as a global economic bloc.