Saturday , June 25 2022

Russia is rebuilding a bridge to Africa


About 35 African leaders formally confirmed their participation in the Russia-Africa summit, the envoy of the Russian President for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, said in mid-July. "Nearly everyone wants to come. About 35 leaders have officially confirmed their participation. I believe at least 40 leaders will come. We feel the commitment of our partners and their great interest."

According to Bogdanov, the Russia-Africa summit can be held every two or three years. "This is not a one-off event, but a long start. We would like to continue this every two to three years on a regular basis. Of course, the venue will change," a senior diplomat told reporters in Moscow.

The Russia-Africa Summit will be the first in a series of activities under the auspices and leadership of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Energy of Russia, the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, as well as legislators and public organizations.

In recent decades, many foreign countries, notably China, the US, the European Union, India, France, Turkey, Japan and South Korea, have held similar gatherings in this format.

The idea of ​​holding a Russia-Africa Forum was initiated by President Putin at the BRICS Summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in Johannesburg in July 2018. This first Russia-Africa Summit will definitely enhance mutual multilateral relations, reformulation of diplomatic relations and significant introduction of ways to increase the effectiveness of Russia-Africa cooperation.

As Russia works to launch a new dawn, policy experts have suggested that the Kremlin should support its future policy agenda in Africa with coherence, activity and support and enhance its involvement in Africa's economic development. The main trends in Africa's development must be taken into account in policy making and included in the final resolutions and declarations.

"In fact, through the summit, Russia needs to find concrete expectations, new directions and how to deal with Africa. The games there have changed completely, many global players have also adopted investment strategies that are more attractive and acceptable to Africans, "South African senior BRICS analyst Kelvin Dewey Stribborn told me in an email from South Africa.

He suggested that "the Russia-Africa Summit should focus discussions on new development-oriented thinking and how to transfer Russian technology to industry and agriculture more jointly, and much more cooperation to create jobs in sectors. This is the best way to maintain peace and eradicate conflict in Africa. "

South African business tycoon Village Rashaba has questioned how Russia will establish a thriving trade relationship with Africa for the benefit of all. In reality and effective practical conditions, how does Russia want to reposition itself in relation to Africa? With regard to business relations, Russia should consider practical strategies in consultation with African countries. The fact that the middle class is growing in leaps and bounds in Africa makes this market even more attractive and opens more opportunities for Russian business.

"The current investment and business engagement of foreign players with Africa is increasing. There are so many unknowns in Russia; it is important for Russia to have a clear vision of the relationship it wants with Africa. Russia, along with African countries, should create sovereign wealth funds using the resource power of these countries, "he said.

There are similar views and sentiments. Rex Essenovo, a member of the Board of Trustees of Nigerians in the Diaspora Europe and senior executive director of Asian Africa Trade, a Moscow business lobby non-governmental organization, said it was unfortunate that some people were consistently undermining Africa's strategic interest, namely infrastructure development and extracting huge its population out of poverty. Playing the conflict card is strategically destructive because the warring nations want to portray Africa as dangerous for investment.

"African leaders must remain focused in the right direction, resolute in managing conflicts and launching new feasible policies focused on infrastructure, modernization of agriculture, investment in manufacturing and industry – this will offer employment to young people. In the meantime, we are not even using one-tenth of our capacity to encourage investment in international platforms, "he added.

In addition, Essenowo stressed that the future of Russia-Africa relations must take into account the true importance of building a platform for civic, media and cultural, as well as human interaction, which helps to change attitudes and mentality, to eliminate the old stereotypes – these are important steps to improve business cooperation. In addition, Russia could help deepen understanding through regular dialogue with civil society and governments as a basis for economic growth, development, and motivation for confidence among Russian investors in the region.

Despite its global status, Russia lacks confidence in Africa. Zimbabwe's ambassador to Russia Major-General (rtd) Nicholas Mike Sango told me in an interview that "For a long time, Russia's foreign policy on Africa has failed to deliver in practice, as evidenced by the listed raids in Africa by Russian employees. The Russian Federation has the capacity and ability to help Africa overcome these challenges by leveraging Africa's vast resources. "

Ambassador Mike Sango expressed his views below: "Africa's expectations are that, although largely in the extractive industry, it will continually transfer technologies for local processing of raw materials as a catalyst for Africa's development."

Many former African ambassadors, mainly from the South African region, also mandate African leaders to prioritize specific development projects and remind them that rational choices need to be made, to push for "African solutions to African problems" "Within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, when they finally meet at the forthcoming October meeting in Sochi.

Summits should discuss in depth "the whole set of development issues that will ultimately shape Africa's future agenda" and analyze them through the lens of competition and competition between other foreign players on the continent, according to summarized individual interviews in the media with former African envoys who served in the Russian Federation. Now Africa is in a great position to have many suitors – everyone offers something they need for their development, they admitted.

State Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin told an immediate meeting held with ambassadors of African countries in the Russian Federation that Russia would take adequate steps to deliver on its promises and promises to African countries. "We suggest moving from intentions to concrete steps," reassured Volodin.

At the meeting, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained that organizing such an event with the participation of more than 50 heads of state and government, as well as African businessmen who want to work in the Russian market, requires the most careful preparation, including its content and format.

"The economic component of the summit is of particular importance as it would be of practical interest to all parties. Specific Russian actors in bilateral or multilateral cooperation who not only commit themselves to long-term cooperation but are also prepared to be identified as such. for large-scale investments in the African markets in view of the possible risks and high competition, "Minister Lavrov said in an interview published on his official website.

For decades, Russia has been seeking effective ways to promote multilateralism and new strategies for cooperation in the fields of energy, oil and gas, trade and industry, agriculture and other economic areas in Africa.

President Vladimir Putin noted during VTB Capital's Russia Call Forum that many countries are "stepping up their operations on the African continent," but added that Russia cannot co-operate with Africa, "as in the Soviet period, politically reasons. " According to him, cooperation with African countries can be developed both bilaterally and multilaterally, for example within the BRICS.

So far, however, Russia has not committed sufficient funds to implement its business projects and other policy objectives in Africa. Russia's investment efforts in the region have so far been limited, which some experts attribute to the lack of funding policies for such projects. While the Russian government is very cautious about making financial commitments, Russian financial institutions are not closely involved in foreign policy initiatives in Africa.

As is publicly known, China has proposed $ 60 billion, Japan $ 32 billion, and India $ 25 billion, while large investment funds also come from the United States and the European Union, all to achieve sustainable development goals in Africa.

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