Economic analysts and political experts have been weighing in on how the Russia-Ukraine war will impact the rest of the world. From agricultural trade to increases in inflation, new conversations and estimations are developing on a daily basis. Over the course of the past decade, Africa and Russia have quietly developed a strengthening relationship.
Here is a look at the relationship between Russia and Africa:
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin made his first official visit to the continent in 2009. During this visit, he was quoted as saying that Africa is a priority for foreign policy. A decade later, in 2019, the first Russia-Africa Summit was hosted. Usually, the event is hosted between October and November, and the 2022 Summit is slated to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“Concrete proposals for consolidating Russian-African cooperation are being worked out by three councils (coordinating, public and scientific ones) reporting to the Partnership Forum Secretariat. They represent ministries, agencies, business and public organisations engaged in the development of relations with the African continent,” said Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister.
“We are not going to participate in a new ‘repartition’ of the continent’s wealth. Rather, we are ready to engage in competition for cooperation with Africa.”
Mr Lavrov added that Moscow is ready to develop strategic partnerships with pan-African organisations and regional integration groups. “Two fundamentally pivotal documents were inked at the previous summit, namely the memorandum of understanding between the government of the Russian Federation and the African Union on basic principles of relations and cooperation, and the memorandum of understanding between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the African Union on economic cooperation. A roadmap of cooperation between Russia and the Southern African Development Community (SADS) is being finalised,” he said via a statement.
Increase in trade and investment
Russian trade and investment in Africa has increased, as has China’s, and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which went into effect on 1 January 2022, has been seen as an opportunity by both countries.
The AfCFTA has resulted in the elimination of 95% of all prior intra-Africa tariffs on cross-border commerce. Only Eritrea has yet to sign on to the agreement. Due to the elimination of the former tariff expense, procurement for African products can now be done on a continental scale, greatly increasing the potential for African supply chain development.
When that capability is combined with special economic zones (SEZ), it becomes conceivable to combine African-sourced components with products imported duty-free into SEZ-bonded regions, where they can be combined to create hybrid African-imported end products.
These can subsequently be resold on AfCFTA markets or exported to other markets, such as Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union trade bloc. This takes advantage of the reduced production and sourcing costs in Africa. Russia has already started establishing SEZs in Africa, most notably in Port Said, Egypt, as well as Mozambique and Namibia.
Russia has been boosting military and other economic involvement in Africa since at least 2007, particularly in the last several years. Contracts to supply military arms and equipment were signed at the 2019 summit with more than 30 African countries. Security, technology, and industries that exploit natural resources like as oil, gas, gold and other minerals have all seen significant investments from businesses.
President Benedict Oramah of the African Export-Import Bank once said during an interview with Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency that the bank’s revenue had doubled since 2015, to almost $20 billion per year. According to him, Russia exported $14 billion in goods and services and imported $5 billion in African commodities.