Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reportedly pitched for an “Asia-Africa growth corridor” supported by Japan and India. Stressing on stronger ties with Africa, Modi said the continent is a top priority for India.
The move comes days after China launched its ambitious OBOR (One Belt, One Road) initiative.
Economic corridors are integrated networks of infrastructure within a geographical area designed to stimulate economic development. Economic corridors may be created to link manufacturing hubs, areas with high supply and demand, and manufacturers of value-added goods.
Modi reportedly said, “Africa-India trade has multiplied in the last 15 years, it has doubled in the last five years to reach near 72 billion dollars in 2014-15.” He said India is the fifth largest investor in Africa as in the last 20 years it has invested USD 54 billion.
“India is working with Japan to support development in Africa. I recall my conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when I was in Tokyo last year. “In our joint declaration, we mentioned about Asia-Africa growth corridor and proposed further conversation with our brothers and sisters of Africa,” the prime minister said in his inaugural speech.
Declaring the 52nd Annual General Meeting of the African Development Bank group open, which is being held for the first time in the country here at Mahatma Mandir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “India’s partnership with Africa is based on a model of co-operation which is responsive to the needs of African countries.”
India’s private sector is also providing an impetus to stronger India-Africa ties, with Africa accounting for nearly one-fifth of Indian overseas direct investments between 1996 and 2016, he points out.
“The idea is India, Japan and other willing partners would explore joint initiative in, skill development, information technology, infrastructure, manufacturing, health and connectivity,” he added.
He said Africa figured on top of India’s priority as a growth pole. Africa has been the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government’s top priority in foreign and economic policy matters, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.
“India cannot compete with Africa in long distance running,” he said on a lighter note. “But I want to assure you that India will always stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, in the long and difficult race for better future.”
“I am proud to say that there is no country in Africa that has not been visited by an Indian Minister in the last three years. Thirteen current or former Presidents, Prime Ministers and Vice Presidents in Africa have attended educational or training institutions in India. Six current or former chiefs of armed forces in Africa trained in India’s military institutions,” the Prime Minister said to drive home the point about forging closer ties on all fronts.
“India has contributed to all of the Bank’s General Capital increases. For the most recent African Development Fund replenishment, India pledged $29 million. We have also contributed to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries and Multilateral Debt Reduction Initiatives,” he said.
“India’s partnership with Africa is based on a model of cooperation, which is responsive to the needs of African countries. It is demand-driven and free of conditions,” Mr. Modi said, alluding to the prescriptive and conditional approach adopted by some countries in their engagements with African nations.
After his address, Modi visited the industrial exposition of African companies at the venue. He then held one-to-one meetings with various heads of state from Africa at the Mahatma Mandir.
Those who shared the dais with Modi included Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, President of Senegal Macky Sall, President of Benin Patrice Talon and Vice President of Ivory Coast Daniel Kablan Duncan, among others.
The Prime Minister said India was backing the establishment of a regional centre of the New Development Bank, popularly called the ‘BRICS Bank’ to promote collaboration with partners like the African Development Bank. India is a founder of the Brics Bank and had joined the African Development Bank in 1983.