NEW DELHI (Sputnik) — Addressing the 52nd Annual General Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) group, PM Modi claimed that the India and Japan-backed corridor is a development model that will cater to the needs of African countries.
"India's partnership with Africa is based on a model of co-operation which is responsive to the needs of African countries. During my visit to Japan and after meeting with Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe, I gladly recall that in our joint declaration we mentioned Asia-Africa growth corridor and proposed further conversation with our brothers and sisters of Africa," Modi said in his address in Ahmedabad.
The AfDB meet is being attended by 3,000 delegates mostly from Africa, which also includes heads of state and senior government officials. China recently showcased its trillion-dollar OBOR initiative which aims to connect the Eurasian landmass and Indo-Pacific maritime routes under its leadership.
"The idea is India, Japan and other willing partners would explore joint initiative in the development of skills, infrastructure, manufacturing and connectivity," Modi said, while stressing that Africa is listed on top of India's priorities as a growth pole. The Indian PM also said that India is the fifth largest investor in Africa, as in the last 20 years it has invested $54 billion.
He said the Asia-Africa growth corridor project was discussed during his recent trip to Japan. The project is still in consultation stages with researchers from both India and Japan preparing vision documents, which will be presented at the board meeting later, said Modi.
"Indian objections to OBOR are very clear, based on sovereignty, and larger sustainable development issues. Our foreign ministry very clearly laid out our objections and we must not ignore them. But it also doesn't mean that any facility, ports, roads or projects built under the OBOR cannot be used by India or any non-participating countries. These are for promoting trade and the host country will leverage it for commercial gains. Even India, Japan African-Asian corridor can't deny these opportunities to non-participating countries," Dr Ashok Sajjanhar, former Indian ambassador to Kazakhstan, told Sputnik.
During the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, India offered $10 billion for development projects over the next five years. Additionally, India also offered grant assistance of $600 million. India has already extended 152 lines of credit through Exim Bank to 44 countries for a total amount of $7.6 billion.
While India enjoys considerable trade and cultural ties with Africa, including from the colonial days, the recent racial attacks in New Delhi's satellite towns on African students dented the country's image.
Many African envoys questioned the government's ability to provide safety and security to their citizens, students. Many media reports at that time highlighted the difficulties faced by African nationals in India.
"India enjoys considerable goodwill in Africa, but those attacks and other similar incidents before erode our positive image. This is when trade between India and Africa has doubled in the last five years to reach nearly $72 billion in 2014-15. A repeat of such incidents could be a dent on the emerging India-Africa partnership. Even China too is witnessing the aggression toward African migrants. But if India loses its goodwill, it is a gain for Chinese economic diplomacy," Ajay Dubey, Professor at the Centre for African Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, had earlier told Sputnik.