Russia commends a new dawn in trade with Africa

Nov 08, 2023

We are closely following the integration processes on the continent, above all the process of formation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. We are ready to establish pragmatic, mutually beneficial ties in this field.

The spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Maria Zakharova. (Courtesy photo)

Nelson Kiva
Journalist @New Vision

The spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Maria Zakharova in an interview with New Vision reporter, Nelson Kiva, commended a new dawn in trade between Africa and Russia.

Question: During the Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg from July 27-28, 2023 President Vladimir Putin announced that trade between Russia and Africa reached $18b last year. Are we seeing a new dawn in trade ties between Russia and Africa?

Answer: Moscow has consistently supported the development of the entire range of economic ties with both individual African States and regional associations, and, of course, with the African Union.

We are closely following the integration processes on the continent, above all the process of formation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. We are ready to establish pragmatic, mutually beneficial ties in this field, including through the Eurasian Economic Union.

Russia feels the favourable attitude of African countries towards the development of a bilateral trade and economic partnership. Africa remains interested in accessing Russian advanced technologies in energy, including nuclear power, geology, and agriculture. African partners positively assess the prospects of using the experience and technical capabilities of the Russian side in the industrial upgrade of power plants and construction of new HPPs because of Russia's advanced technological developments.

In addition to the above-mentioned areas of cooperation, Russian companies are interested in more active work on the continent in the chemical industry, mining, transport engineering, fishing, etc. The implementation of joint projects will undoubtedly contribute to an increase in the Russian-African trade turnover.

At this stage, the key task is to organize mutual settlements. For this purpose, direct correspondent relations between Russian and African banks should be established more actively, with their connection to the System for Transfer of Financial Messages of the Bank of Russia.

We are optimistic about the prospects for developing the Russian-African trade and economic relations and continue to make every effort to raise them to the high level of our political cooperation.

Question: For a long time, Africa has decried the trade imbalance in global markets largely caused by the exportation of raw materials instead of finished goods. African leaders have taken a unilateral decision to drastically scale down an exportation of raw materials to the developed world. What is Russia doing to support Africa in value addition?

Answer: There is a growing understanding among Russian business circles that African partners are highly interested in the renewal and creation of industries producing value-added goods and services.

Recently the focus of our cooperation with African partners has been gradually shifting towards high technology. Examples include the creation of a national satellite communications and broadcasting system in Angola and the construction of a space tracking station in South Africa. There is ongoing work with a number of African countries to agree on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Alternative energy is becoming a promising area: Russian companies are interested in solar energy projects with the possibility of organizing assembling of photovoltaic modules.

In today's world, the development of certain economy sectors is impossible without information and communication technologies. Russian IT companies are ready to offer package solutions in digitalization, expansion of telecommunications networks, creation and implementation of mobile operating systems, radio control and cyber-security.

Russian investments in African States continue to grow, and Russian companies are planning to open assembly plants in various countries of the region. The establishment of the Russian Industrial Zone in Egypt offers significant opportunities for expanding cooperation.

In economic cooperation Russia is focused on strengthening the technological sovereignty of African partners along the entire chain of competences – expertise, technologies, establishment of enterprises, and professional training.

I would also like to note that to enter African markets, including Uganda, and participate in joint projects, Russian companies can take advantage of support from state development institutions, which have the necessary set of financial instruments, such as debt financing, insurance and issuance of guarantees, and subsidies.

Question: Uganda's budding oil and gas sector requires both technical and financial support, should we expect to see Russian business people and state corporations coming to invest in the sector?

Answer: It is well known that the oil and gas sector is one of the key elements of the Russian economy. Russia has extensive, time-tested competences in this area, including exploration, production and processing of hydrocarbons.

Cooperation in the oil and gas sector was discussed during the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg at the end of this July. The two leaders agreed on the need for more active involvement of Russian economic operators in the implementation of Uganda's plans to develop its oil and gas industry and energy sector in general. 

Russian companies could take part in the exploration of Uganda's oil resources, creation of oil refining and hydrocarbon transportation facilities, and supply of equipment for Uganda's oil and gas industry, including with the use of innovative technologies.

Timely informing by the Ugandan side of the Russian business about potential opportunities seems important. It is necessary to assist the business community more actively in establishing and expanding direct contacts.

In this regard, the practice of business missions, which should include visits to potential facilities and negotiations with direct operators from the Ugandan side, looks useful.

Question: Russia doubled scholarships of Ugandan students to study in Russia, what are the key areas of cooperation in the education sector beyond scholarships?

 Of course, the Russian-African cooperation in the field of education is not limited to the provision of state scholarships at Russian universities.

It includes direct exchange of students, providing grants, holding scientific and practical events, and creating educational programmes at national universities. I would like to note that such programmes are developed considering the needs of the economies of partner countries.

The Russian-African Network University (RAFU) was established in August 2021 to form a common educational and scientific space, promote academic mobility, and develop intercultural dialogue between Russia and Africa. It includes 12 Russian universities having already worked with African students. The RAFU educational model is a unified pool of courses and disciplines available to the consortium members in Russian, English, and French. The same courses will become the basis of joint educational programmes.

The Memorandum of Cooperation between the Russian-African Network University and the Makerere University, the leading Ugandan higher education institution, was signed last February.

A delegation from the Orenburg State Pedagogical University (OSPU) visited Uganda last March, inter alia, with a view of establishing the Open Education Centre for Russian studies at the Makerere University. Now, programmes specially prepared by the OSPU for Ugandan students give the opportunity for over 200 people to learn Russian.

RAFU is now at its early stages. I hope that the university will live up to its purpose as a promising scientific and educational project.

Question: We understand that an African delegation including Uganda has recently suggested the Russia-Ukraine Peace Plan to both Moscow and Kiev, is Moscow considering the proposal and possibly how far?

Answer: Over the past few months, several States have proposed peace mediation initiatives, including a group of African countries. We are grateful to our African partners for their sincere desire for a political and diplomatic settlement of the Ukrainian conflict and for their deep understanding of its root causes. We are aware that the development of this initiative was the result of an unprecedented level of interaction and well-coordinated cooperation among a significant number of African States. We are impressed by the fact that our African colleagues have carefully considered the formation of new security architecture on the European continent and the impact of the Ukrainian crisis on the world economy.

Along with our African partners, we believe that the negotiation process should result in the establishment of peace in Europe, the restoration of the Russian-Ukrainian cooperation in the long term, and the development of non-confrontational relations between Russia and NATO.

We also share their approach that all the principles of the UN Charter must be respected and implemented, there should be no double standards, unilateral sanctions, or attempts to ensure one's own security at the expense of the security of others.

As we have repeatedly stated, Russia has never refused to negotiate. However, today we see political will for peace neither in Kiev nor in the West. The mediation initiatives of the group of African countries, as I have just mentioned, are categorically rejected by the Kiev regime. Instead, Zelensky's “peace formula” is being promoted, which has nothing to do with peace and is a kind of smokescreen for the West's aggressive plans to continue hostilities. In addition, Zelensky's self-imposed legal ban on negotiations with the Russian leadership, established on 30 September 2022, is still in effect. Under such conditions, the launch of talks on a peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian conflict depends on the readiness of Kiev and its Anglo-Saxon handlers to seriously discuss the current geopolitical realities.

Question: The Western media is increasingly reporting that the Russian Defense Forces are losing the liberated territories in the Ukrainian counter offensive, is this the fact or false?

Answer: The facts show that the Ukrainian armed forces' counter-offensive has stalled. At the same time, the Russian forces are holding the tactical initiative along the entire line of contact: daily there are advances of between 300 and 1,600 metres deep into the territory (depending on the direction).

Question: As the Official Spokeswoman of the MFA of Russia, are you feeling fatigue on the part of the government or population of Russia in connection with the situation around Ukrainian crisis, as the Western media has been reporting?

Answer: We view such reports in the Western media as attempts to divert the attention of their own people from the growing internal problems resulted from the ill-considered and failed policy by the authorities of these countries of large-scale funding and pumping the Kiev regime with arms to escalate hostilities, as well as the endless imposition of illegitimate sanctions against Russia, which are causing increasing harm to ordinary people, especially in Europe. We can see how the Western society is growing and accumulating fatigue with such a flawed policy that clearly does not meet the national interests.

As for the Russian society, there is no question of “fatigue”. It is the future of our country, the elimination of an existential threat on our Western borders. This situation has only consolidated the Russian population.

If there is a thing, we are tired of, it is the nonsense and meanness of the “collective West!”

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