Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Russia-Africa summit and economic forum offer more prospects for Africa

Article from AFRIC Editorial
A new page of Russia Africa ties opened on October 23, 2019, at the first Russia-Africa summit and Economic Forum in Sochi. The inaugural speeches presented by President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, together with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, also head of the African Union, revealed a great desire from both Russia and African countries to fully cooperate in all domains especially trade. While acknowledging that the African continent remains the best destination for investment due to its potential partners with outstanding visions, Vladimir Putin openly declared his country's willingness to fully cooperate with African countries.

Putin said; ‘’Economic issues are an integral part and an actual priority of Russia’s relations with the African countries. Developing close business ties serves our common interests, contributes to the sustainable growth of all our countries, helps to improve quality of life and solve numerous social problems”.

African Union chair welcomes Russia

Talking on behalf of African presidents in his capacity as the AU Chair, Abdel Fattah EL Sisi hailed the Russian leader for his willingness to facelift trade cooperation with African countries. The AU chair reiterated on the need to attain the SDGs and agenda 63, noting that the Russia-Africa economic forum has the capacity of aiding the continent attain its development goals, due to the enhanced trade and cooperation between the two partners. President Sisi said; “It is necessary to make use of successful economic experiments particularly the Russian one which reflects a solid will and ability to work hard and deliver. Therefore, the forum must yield positive results that would contribute to boosting the potentials and capabilities of the African nations.” Hence African leaders see the first Russia Africa forum as a platform for partners to solidify their cooperation for mutual investment and shared interest; a win-win partnership.

Russia backs the historic African Continental Free Trade Area

One of the world’s most renowned and influential leader Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation has largely supported Africa’s dream free trade zone referred to as African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA. President Putin during his opening speech at the inaugural session of the Russia-Africa summit and Economic Forum underlined the need for bloc trading or commercial integration, which is imperative for cooperation, and as such applauded the efforts of the African Union in realizing the historic continental Free Trade Area. In his own words, President Putin said: ‘‘ We welcome the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area as part of the African Union and are willing to work with this new entity.” The African Union in July this year launched the operational phase of its trade bloc AfCFTA in Niger. But much has not been heard about it since then. Analysts have argued that leaders have relented their efforts in making the liberal Intra African trade operation. It should be noted that this would represent the largest trade bloc in the world if it is fully materialised.

Africa as an alternative market

As long as international trade or world trade continues to gain momentum, many trade partners including Russia see the African Continent as an alternative market for trade. The continent has in recent times attracted so many businesses especially Russian businesses, mostly because of its trade or economic growth prospects. However, most African countries still face the challenge of unfavourable business atmospheres due to civil wars, corruption, inadequate accountability, poor governance, just to name but these. There are still limited sustainable businesses, which the continent needs to boost to meet up with the demands in the world market. Nonetheless, if the growth rate goes progressively without major interruptions, then Africa’s Gross Domestic Product will stand at $29 trillion by 2050, as per experts. According to a social entrepreneur Javnyuy Joybert, African leaders should be strategic on what they ask from Moscow, lamenting that the continent has always abused the financial aid given to its leaders by development partners through embezzlement. However, he thinks that with the right collaboration and shared interest, Africa stands to benefit a lot from its renewed ties with Russia.

According to the young African entrepreneur, African leaders should not go to Russia as beggars but as bold as partners. Like Presidents Nana Akufo Addo and Paul Kagame of Ghana and Rwanda respectively would have it, Africa has gone beyond aid. He said, ‘’Africa offers plenty of economic opportunities that need to be projected right. African leaders should desire exchange in skills and competencies and intentional investment in young people.” President Putin sees Africa as a fertile destination for investment and has vowed to step up Russia-Africa trade which is measured at just $20 billion. This needs to change in the next five years, as per the Russian leader.

As it stands, there are many opportunities Africa can tap from its renewed ties with Russia. Russia is an advanced partner in areas like energy, defence, agriculture, security, providing a better opportunity for Africa. At the end of the summit which culminates on October 24, 2019, various memoranda or agreements of trade, economic and investment would be inked among African and Russian partners. A country like Zimbabwe already sees the economic forum as a turning point in the economic life of the country, which has remained fragile over the years due to economic sanctions from the west. There is a wide range of prospects for Africa as far as its cooperation with Russia is concerned, the ball is now in its court to be strategic and firm when negotiating investment deals with its development partners including Russia, China, Japan and others.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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