Resource-rich Russia and Africa need to unite to jointly protect their interests

Photo: Roscongress Foundation

Photo: Roscongress Foundation

Russia’s return to the African continent began even before the coronavirus pandemic and this year’s geopolitical tensions. But now our country’s interest in cooperation with the Black Continent has increased many times over – and this is a mutual process. African countries need Russian grain, fertilizers, energy resources, and technology. In turn, the Russian Federation sees in Africa one of the largest on the planet and still growing sales market, as well as a source of important natural resources. All this was discussed during the Russia-Africa business dialogue at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The tone of the meeting was set by Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Alexander Pankin, who noted that the development of partnership with African countries is the most important priority of Russian foreign policy. The Deputy Minister called the tasks of the near future the expansion of settlements in national currencies and the integration of payment systems, as well as the acceleration of the entry of economic operators in Russia and Africa into each other’s markets.

Alexander Pankin recalled that back in 2019, the first Russia-Africa summit was held in Sochi, which became an important milestone in cooperation between the two economic spaces. And now preparations are already underway for the second summit of this kind. The diplomat assured that Russia would remain a responsible supplier of food and other critical goods to the southern continent, and called on the West to remove artificial obstacles to trade routes.

The business dialogue took place with a high level of foreign presence. Members of the governments of Mali, Egypt and Zimbabwe came to St. Petersburg especially to participate in it. And the Central African Republic was represented by Prime Minister Felix Molua.

“Africa is a region that does not produce global crises, but suffers greatly from their consequences,” Felix Molua said in his speech. – Today, the continent needs to provide such dynamics that would allow it to reach the level of other countries. Africa needs justice. It is wrong when we are forced to switch to green energy if we have not yet reached the appropriate level of industrial development. Africa is potentially a very rich continent. But he must find his rightful place in the concert of nations.

Senator Igor Morozov said that in every region of Russia today there are dozens of medium and small businesses that would like to supply their products to the African continent. However, they often face organizational difficulties. To solve these problems, Igor Morozov suggested establishing a special investment fund aimed only at Africa, as well as a bank ready to lend to start-ups in the African direction. The senator also stressed the importance of holding exhibitions of products of Russian enterprises in Africa.

The participants agreed that Africa’s most important competitive advantage is the fact that the continent has a third of the planet’s mineral reserves. Sergey Glazyev, Minister for Integration of the Eurasian Economic Commission, noted the need to create a single exchange platform, which will allow more fair pricing of metals and other resources. And the president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Alexander Shokhin, called the creation of a single free trade zone the main positive event in recent years in Africa.

Since Soviet times, many people from African countries have received higher education in our country, who later formed the national elite of their states, said Natalya Bocharova, Deputy Minister of Science of Russia. According to her, today 27,000 Africans study in Russian universities. Starting this year, the quota for budgetary education for them has been increased by 400 people. Great prospects are associated with online education. Last year, the Russian-African Network University was established, the consortium with which has already included more than 40 universities of the continent.

All participants in the discussion expressed their opinion on the need to strengthen cooperation in all areas, from economic cooperation to cultural exchange.

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