Why Russia’s activity in Africa infuriates the West

Jul 26, 2023

Denisov says volume of trade between Russia and Uganda is gradually increasing, but it is clear that the growth potential is quite large. In 2020, the total foreign trade turnover amounted to $20m.

Denis Denisov

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@New Vision


By Denis Denisov

What can unite such different countries located thousands of kilometres apart as Russia and Uganda?

A lot. First, it is the desire for a more just, multipolar world.

Secondly, it is the pursuit of a sovereign, independent policy — both within countries and in the international arena.

Thirdly, they are charismatic leaders.

Fourthly, the enormous potential for economic development, which the countries of the collective West are trying to limit with the help of sanctions, is neo-colonialism.

Uganda is a country located in East Africa. It borders Kenya to the east, South Sudan to the north, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Rwanda to the southwest and Tanzania to the south. Uganda belongs to the inland countries, ranking second after Ethiopia in terms of area — 236,040 km².

The southern part of Uganda includes a significant part of Lake Victoria, which makes it part of the African Great Lakes region.

The republic is also located within the Nile basin and has a diverse, predominantly equatorial climate.

The second Russia-Africa summit will be held this week in St. Petersburg.

The President of Uganda has recently become a prominent newsmaker, especially in the media of the collective West, who are trying to demonise his figure.

So, at the end of May, Uganda passed a tough law against LGBT people, after which even the American president immediately reacted, calling such actions unacceptable.

In a number of African countries, there are similar legal Acts, but as we understand, criticism from the countries of the collective West of President Museveni used this law as an excuse. In fact, hostility towards the Ugandan president is caused by other reasons.

First of all, it is the desire to pursue a policy independent of the West. So, Museveni has repeatedly expressed support for the Russian Federation, is actively developing co-operation with the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS countries, and is trying to squeeze out transnational corporations from Uganda that have penetrated the country’s economy.

In this context, the Russia-Africa forum is an excellent platform to find partners and investors for Uganda among Russian business. The Ugandan side has already announced that the forum will be attended by key ministers of the economic bloc, as well as business representatives from Uganda.

The volume of trade between Russia and Uganda is gradually increasing, but it is clear that the growth potential is quite large. In 2020, the total foreign trade turnover amounted to $20m.

Russia exports to Uganda mainly metallurgical products, machinery and equipment for the production of electricity, chemicals and foodstuffs.

In turn, Uganda supplies Russia with agricultural products (coffee, tea, flowers), ores, minerals and textiles.

It is natural that Russian companies are showing interest in investment projects in Uganda, especially in the energy, oil and gas, infrastructure and agricultural sectors.

It should be specially noted that the relations between Russia and Uganda throughout the entire 60-year history are characterised as strategic and mutually beneficial. In 1962, the USSR was one of the first countries to recognise the independence of Uganda, after which political and economic ties began to improve.

Thanks to the support of the USSR, healthcare systems and higher education actually appeared in Uganda. Quotas have also been allocated and are still being allocated for citizens of Uganda to receive higher education in Russia.

A separate mention should be made of co-operation in the military-industrial complex, which also contributed to the strengthening of bilateral relations.

Uganda receives Russian weapons to strengthen its defence capability and participate in peacekeeping operations. In 2023, the purchase of Mi-17 helicopters and anti-aircraft missile systems by Uganda was reported. The modern, changing world predetermines for small countries the search for partners that could become support and promote development, for Uganda it becomes more and more logical to choose integration into such associations as BRICS and SCO.

Today, these ideas are becoming more and more popular both among the leaders of Uganda and other African states and among the intellectual elite. As a result, the years 2023-2024 may well become a breakthrough both for the African countries that have chosen this vector of development, and for the organizations themselves, which will receive new, promising members.

The writer is the business consultant for the Business Community of Russia in the Balkans

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