Russia seeks to bring bilateral ties to a new level with the first ever Russia – Africa Summit starting today.
The two-day event which is being held at the Black Sea resort city of Sochi will be co-chaired by Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, who is holding presidency in the African Union in 2019. Heads of more than 50 African states have been invited to the forum.
The summit’s discussions entails issues related to the modern international situation, current relations between Russia and African countries in relation to political, trade and economics.
Security is expected to be high on the agenda too.
Russia has made inroads in increasing its military presence in Central African Republic (CAR) to protect its interests.
Its military exploits in the CAR has upset the US and China. (more on this article below)
In 2017, the UN Security Council approved a Russian training mission in CAR, however, the US claims that the Russian men who operate in CAR are not the official army but mercenaries belonging to Russian oligarch close to Putin known as Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Military technical relations
Russia is the second largest supplier of arms in the world and a major supplier of arms to African countries. The number of arms supplied by Russia keeps increasing and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found that Russia’s sales of weaponry to African countries in 2017 had doubled compared to 2012. China and the US are also crucial weapons suppliers but in Africa they fall behind Russia, which supplied 39% of Africa’s imported arms between 2017 and 2013.
SIPRI’s data on major weapons transfers show that the main arms transferred by Russia in 2016-2017 were principally second-hand equipment such as combat and transport helicopters, aircrafts, and surface to air missile systems.
In addition to weapons, Russia contributes troops to Africa. Private mercenary effort is a very common form of involvement by Russia in African countries, as demonstrated by large-scale mercenary efforts in the Central African Republic (CAR), but military contractors have also been active in other African countries.
Trade between Russia and sub-Saharan Africa started at low levels but increased rapidly to $4.8 billion last year from $1.8 billion in 2010. Russia-Africa trading relations are characterized by Russia’s main role as an exporter.
In 2018, Russia’s exports to sub-Saharan Africa totaled $3 billion, while imports from sub-Saharan Africa came in at $1.7 billion. In 2015, Algeria together with Egypt, Morocco, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa accounted for 80% of Africa’s exports to Russia. Cote d’Ivoire saw a strong increase in mutual trade with Russia in 2018, particularly with agricultural products and energy. During last year’s BRICS meeting in Johannesburg, president Putin emphasized Russia’s trade with Africa grew by more than 25% in 2017, and that trade saw particular growth in the food supplies, metals, and machinery and equipment sectors.
Rwanda recently okayed Russia”s help to build a nuclear power plant to improve the countries electricity generation and distribution.
The concept of energy diplomacy can be said to have emerged between Russia an Africa and with investments made in gas, oil, and nuclear power. Namely, Russian geologists are active in countries including Ghana, Madagascar, and Libya and large oil companies such as Rosneft and Lukoil are fighting to dominate the market of oil investments through the creation of oil and gas fields in countries including Egypt and Mozambique.
Talks are also underway to establish a nuclear technology center and Russia announced its will to build an African Center of Excellence and nuclear power in Ethiopia.
Kenyan Business Feed is the top Kenyan Business Blog. We share news from Kenya and across the region. To contact us with any alert, please email us to [email protected]