To counter OBOR, India and Japan propose Asia-Africa sea corridor AAGC

Author: Tathagata Batabyal

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the pitch for developing an Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), with support from Japan, while addressing the annual general meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Gujarat’s capital of Gandhinagar last Tuesday, May 23.

The next day, both the Indian and Japanese governments presented a “vision document”for the project that is largely meant to propel growth and investment in Africa, by curtailing the ever-increasing presence of the Chinese on the continent. More concrete details on this corridor are expected to emerge when Prime Minister Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe meet later this year.

What is Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)? How will Japan and India contribute to the project?
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. Similarly, ports of Mombasa and Zanzibar will be connected to ports near Madurai; Kolkata will be linked to Sittwe port in Myanmar. India is developing ports under the Sagarmala programme specifically for this purpose. Apart from developing sea corridors , the AAGC also proposes to build robust institutional, industrial and transport infrastructure in growth poles among countries in Asia and Africa. The idea is to enable economies in Asia and Africa to further integrate and collectively emerge as a globally competitive economic bloc.

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.

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