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Omkar Shelar asked: Why is the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) not gaining pace and how will it affect India's influence compared to that of China in Africa?

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  • Ruchita Beri replies: The Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) is one of the initiatives launched by India in recent years, to enhance cooperation with African countries in partnership with Japan. The AAGC vision document was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meeting in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on 23 May 2017. The main objective of the corridor is to enhance growth and connectivity between Asia and Africa. The vision document was prepared jointly by Indian and Japanese think tanks in consultation with other think tanks in Asia and Africa. The AAGC focuses on triangular development cooperation between India, Japan and like-minded countries in Africa. Like India, Japan has extensive development cooperation with African countries. It has a platform of structured engagement with African countries under the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process. The AAGC is also based on India and Japan’s shared vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.

    During the visit of the Prime Minister of Japan to India in September 2017, while the term AAGC was not mentioned, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the efforts to explore the development of industrial corridors and industrial networks for the growth of Asia and Africa. During the 2018 annual India–Japan summit, the idea of moving the AAGC towards a  Business-to-Business (B2B) approach emerged with the setting up of a “Platform for Japan–India Business Cooperation in Asia–Africa Region” to enhance private sector collaboration towards developing industrial corridors in the Asia–Africa region.  Meanwhile, at the Government-to-Government (G2G) level in 2019, an announcement was made regarding India and Japan setting up a cancer hospital in Kenya. In recent years, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), among others, have engaged with private sector companies from India and Japan through meetings in India and some African countries. However, these consultations suggest that there is more interest amongst businesses within India than in Japan in the AAGC.

    The slow pace of AAGC may not have much impact on India’s bilateral relations with African countries. It is true that China has increased its footprint in Africa. However, India under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi has deepened relations with African countries. This is visible through the launch of various initiatives, such as the continuation of structured engagement through the third India–Africa Forum Summit, the opening of 18 new diplomatic missions, the announcement of Ten Guiding Principles of engagement with Africa, vaccine maitri during the COVID-19 pandemic and several high-level visits to the continent in recent years.  India has a strong development partnership with African countries driven by African priorities. It has extended concessional loans of over US$ 12.3 billion to Africa and has completed 197 projects so far, 65 more are currently under execution. India and African countries have also converged on issues, such as vaccine inequity and reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), at the multilateral level.

    Posted on 26 August 2022

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.