Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday pitched for an “Asia-Africa growth corridor” to be developed along with Japan and the US in a bid to counter the increasing Chinese presence on the African continent.
“India is working with the United States and Japan to support development in Africa,” said Modi, while addressing representatives from 54 African countries who had gathered for the 52nd annual general meeting of the African Development Bank at Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat.
“I gladly recall my detailed conversation with Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe during my visit to Tokyo. We discussed our commitment for enhancing growth prospects for all. In our joint declaration, we mentioned an Asia Africa Growth Corridor and proposed further conversations with our brothers and sisters from Africa,” Modi said at the event, which was also attended by Japanese officials.
“Indian and Japanese research institutions have come up with a Vision Document…. This was done in consultation with think tanks from Africa. I understand the Vision Document would be presented at the board meeting later. The idea is that India and Japan, with other willing partners, would explore joint initiatives in skills, health, infrastructure, manufacturing and connectivity,” Modi added.
African nations are being wooed at a time Chinese investments in the continent are on the rise. The “African Economic Outlook 2017” released on Monday at the AfDB summit at Gandhinagar states: “Chinese investment in Africa continues to rise, despite the country’s slowing economy and decreasing demand for oil and minerals.” In 2016, Chinese companies announced more than $30 billion in investment in greenfield projects across Africa.
The interest shown in the African continent by the India-Japan-US trio could also be a blessing in disguise for several African countries that are currently worried about the slowdown in China’s growth rate. China is a primary consumer of African products and accounts for 27 per cent of Africa’s total global exports.
Modi also pointed out the rising trade between India and the African continent. “India’s commodity trade with Africa in 2015-16 was higher than our commodity trade with the US,” he said.
Modi said that his government had made Africa a “top priority” for India’s foreign and economic policy.