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Why does Russia need friendship with Africa? Answers to the main questions about the Russia-Africa forum in simple language

Date: June 20, 2024 Time: 11:58:48

The Russia-Africa summit takes place in Saint Petersburg.

Photo: Julia PYKHALOVA

But recently we were close friends from Africa! For decades, the USSR supported the countries of the Black Continent with food, money, weapons, doctors, teachers, engineers… But after the collapse of the Union, we were not up to it for a long time.

And now it’s time to meet again. In the era of sanctions, Russia turned not only to the east, but also to the southwest. And there is even a place to turn around.

Now Africa is 17% of the world’s population, and there will be much more. Demographers predict an explosion in the birth rate on the continent, from the current 1.4 billion to 2.5 billion by 2050. The economy is also growing steadily: for example, in 2021, the total GDP of the countries on the continent increased by 6.9 %. This is more than in the European Union and the United States.

Recently, Russia sent only 3% of exports to Africa ($14.7 billion in 2021) and brought even less: 1% of imports. But the very logic of life suggests that our ties to this rapidly developing continent will also develop rapidly.

WHAT AND WHERE WE SUPPLY

We have not lost the Soviet legacy. Dmitry Prokhorenko, Director of Foreign Network Development at the Russian Export Center (REC), notes that we have close partnerships with many African countries.

– First of all, it is Egypt. The country has a very convenient location, it has access to both Europe and the Middle East, says Dmitry Prokhorenko. – As for other countries, in North Africa there is also Algeria, our traditional partner. In West Africa, the largest economy in this region, Nigeria, as well as Ghana and Senegal, which are developing dynamically, are the most interesting. In East Africa are Ethiopia and Kenya, a country that is rapidly developing a number of advanced industries (for example, fintech platforms that allow you to make online payments without opening a bank account; renewable energy, etc.). BRICS member country South Africa also remains a traditional partner. There is interest in the development of trade and economic relations between Zimbabwe, Mali, Burkina Faso…

At the same time, our export to Africa is traditional. More than half of the deliveries fall into two main items.

Food (mainly cereals)

– Sub-Saharan Africa is the poorest country in the world. There is a severe food shortage. And who, but us, to help those who suffer? Russia is one of the main breadwinners for the family as the world’s leading exporter of wheat. Therefore, Africa, of course, is primarily interested in our country precisely as a source of food, says Georgy Ostapkovich, director of the Center for Market Research at the Institute for Statistical Research and Knowledge Economy at the Higher School of Economics.

oil products

Africa does not really need oil in its pure form due to the small number of refineries. Therefore, we supply gasoline, diesel fuel, etc. there.

But times are changing, as are our exports and imports.

– Russian industrial equipment (including electrical equipment) and metallurgical products are in great demand there. And in 2022, deliveries to the mainland of products that had previously been supplied to other markets became significant: steel and pipes, copper and copper wire, plywood, adds Dmitry Prokhorenko.

There is another feature of the penalty period. Previously, products from Africa (coffee, tea, cocoa beans, flowers, oranges, lemons, minerals, tobacco) came to Russia via European companies. And now Russian importers are working directly with African companies. Everyone wins, including the buyer: the fewer intermediaries, the cheaper.

just the facts

Photo: Dmitry POLUKHIN

IMPACT MORE THAN MONEY

All this is good, but there is a question. The economy in African countries is growing rapidly, but they are far from Europe with America and China. How are they going to pay for our exports, which will inevitably grow?

Experts explain: Money is not the only way that companies and countries can “thank” each other. Such a scheme has been working for a long time and without fail: you supply goods to poor countries on credit, and those “in gratitude” conclude large contracts with companies from your country. This is how China is actively working now: building airports, factories, roads and much more in Africa.

Russia is trying to keep up: LUKOIL, Rosneft, VTB, PhosAgro, Yandex, Kaspersky and our other leading companies have been successfully operating in Africa for a long time. And this cooperation will develop. African countries expect our help in energy, port development, construction of roads and railways.

– We need Africa for investment. Because? In addition to the humanitarian mission (solving the problems of hunger and poverty), Africa is a growing market. It is necessary to create production facilities there – agricultural, industrial. Jobs will come along with them. That’s when the market for our exports will begin to work, – says financial analyst Mikhail Belyaev.

Here, however, there is a nuance. Not always Africa can repay the loans, so they have to be cancelled.

– About 15 years ago we “forgave” them $ 15 billion, – recalls Georgy Ostapkovich. – For our country, which has a GDP of almost 2 trillion dollars a year, that is not a lot of money. But thanks to that charity, we are increasing our political influence. When voting at the UN on any issue, many African countries take the position of Russia.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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