Russia will host it’s first-ever Africa Summit as Kremlin seeks to re-launch relations, search for new political allies and trading partners in the continent. About 47 African leaders are expected to be present at the two-day economic forum that begins today, October 23, 2019 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Ahead of the landmark event, President Vladimir Putin announced the readiness of his country to help African countries without any conditions attached. « We see how an array of Western countries are resorting to pressure, intimidation and blackmail of sovereign African governments, » Mr Putin said in an interview with TASS News Agency on Monday. He added that western countries are using such methods to exert their influence and dominance in their former colonies in a new guise and rushing to pump out maximum profits and exploit the continent. He noted with satisfaction that relations with Africa had improved with military corporation agreements that Russia currently has with more than 30 African countries which it supply arms to.
A big geopolitical player in Africa during the cold war, Moscow has been vying with China, Europe and the Gulf States for influence and commercial opportunities in the resource-rich continent. Russian exports to African countries hit $20bn last year, roughly double the level of 2015 but paltry compared with China’s $205bn, and heavily reliant on arms and grain sales to northern states.
During the two-day summit, Moscow will seek trade agreements and partners for its large energy, mining and defence companies especially in Egypt and Algeria that account for about two-thirds of Russian exports to Africa. For most African states, any diversification of funding sources is good. Having companies compete against each other for investments is also positive. Thus, seeking to increase that footprint and turn political friendship into business partnerships is a positive drive.