First Russia-Africa Summit Starts

The summit is taking place on 23rd and 24th October. In attendance will be 3,000 delegates from across the globe. With representatives from all the 54 African countries, the summit will discuss emerging issues around the globe. For instance, nuclear energy and mineral extraction topics will be discussed. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the summit is all about business and politics. The first Russia-Africa summit starts at the right time.

“We currently export to Africa more than $25 billion (22.5 billion) worth food- which is more than we export in arms, at $15 billion. In the next four to five years, I think we should be able to double this trade, at least,” Putin said.

Following concerns from Africans over too much dependence on China, Russia has re-assured Africa of its cooperation. As a matter of fact, Russia will sign a military agreement with Ivory Coast. “In this regard, the West Africa country will send 70 delegates to the summit. Its president Alassane Ouattara will also attend.

Besides military cooperation, Russia’s president promised commitment to Russian in ending the Ebola virus. The Russian government will see to it that “African Cadres” are trained by Russian universities on how to curb the spread of this virus.

“Joint projects are underway in extractive industries, agriculture, healthcare, and education,” declared Putin as he opened the summit.

Russia’s plan to outsmart China

Before China came into the picture, Russia was the major foreign partner with Africa. This was during the Soviet war when Russia provided support and training to independence movements. Also, government leaders from Soviet client states like Angola and Ethiopia depended on Russia for help. However, the fall of the Soviet Union in 991, saw China take Russia’s place.

The first Russia-Africa summit kicks start by welcoming the heads of states and governments of its member states. This happened at the Black sea resort in Russia’s capital, Sochi. Speaking during the onset of the two-day summit, Putin announced that Moscow had written off African debts amounting to over $20 billion. This will further intensify trade between Russia and Africa.

“Many Russian companies have long and successfully worked with partners from the most different sectors of the African economy and plan to expand their influence in Africa. We, of course, will provide support at the state level,” he remarked.

Russia hopes to strengthen diplomatic and bilateral ties with Africa. As Africans provide lucrative markets for their arms, Russia will in exchange for its vast mineral wealth. Through Russia trades with Africa, it hopes to further grow the partnership. “Our relations are not solely built on ‘struggle politics’ but rather on fostering mutually beneficial partnerships based on common interests,” Russia said in a statement.

Deals sealed with African countries

After the first Russia-Africa summit kicks off, individual member states have signed deals.

  • Russia and Niger: Both have agreed on the supply of Russia-made Mi-35 attack helicopters to Niger
  • Russia state nuclear company, Rosatom, and Ethiopia: a deal of building a nuclear power station in Ethiopia

Putin accused former West African colonial powers of intimidating the countries to exploit their resources. ”We see how an array of Western countries is resorting to pressure, intimidation and blackmail of sovereign African governments,” Putin said.

Related: US$69 billion to be directed to women in business by Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi)


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