14 December 2019 11:53 PM

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An eye on 'Russia–Africa' Summit

Monday، 21 October 2019 - 02:18 PM

Russian Sochi city will host Russia–Africa Summit. The Economic Forum on 23–24 October 2019 at the Sirius Park of Science and Art and will be co-chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. The summit is one of the important activities undertaken by Egypt during its presidency of the African Union this year.

The Russia–Africa Summit is the first event of its kind in the history of Russian- African relations to which the head of every African state and the leaders of major regional associations and organizations have been invited.

The summit comes at a time of major global and international transformations. It marks a turning point in the course of cooperation between the African continent and Moscow. The Summit and Forum shall establish a new phase of strategic partnership between the two sides, based on mutual interests, respect for national sovereignty, qualitative enhancement of economic and trade relations and new frameworks for constructive cooperation in all fields.

The Forum will be a strategically important step towards creating favorable conditions for the development of trade and economic relations between Russia and Africa and will also diversify the forms and areas of Russian-African cooperation. The Forum will become a regular event and help to maintain a constant business dialogue between Russia and African countries. A significant set of trade, economic, and investment agreements is expected to be signed.

A partner and exhibitor exhibition will be organized as part of the Forum.

The Russia–Africa Economic Forum Exhibition is a key platform for demonstrating achievements and potential opportunities in economics, science, ecology, and culture.

Exhibition participants will present landmark projects and advanced technologies in the mining and chemical industries, engineering and energy, agriculture and transport, healthcare, the military-industrial complex, and other areas with potential for developing investment and export between Russia and Africa.

The Summit plenary sessions will look to discuss a wide range of issues on the international agenda and to compare views on pressing issues of vital interest to Russia and Africa.

The Summit will focus particular attention on actual and potential relations between Russia and the nations of Africa, the development of interaction in the political, economic, humanitarian, and cultural fields among others with an emphasis on finding ways to accelerate and develop the entire range of Russian- African cooperation in a systematic way.

Plans call for an in-depth exchange of views on the development of coordinated measures to counter terrorism, cross-border crime, and other challenges and threats to regional and global security.

The Russia–Africa Summit is being held in the context of successive regional and international changes. Interest among major countries, including the United States,

the European Union, China, Japan and India, is growing to boost economic and trade partnership with the African continent, especially after the official launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) during the 12th Extraordinary.

The summit of the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government in Niamey, capital of Niger, July 2019. The AfCFTA is the world's largest free trade area since the founding of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, with 2.1 billion consumers and a gross domestic product of about $ 4.3 trillion, or 3% of world GDP.

The AfCFTA contributes to increasing intra-African trade from 17% to 60% by 2022, reducing imported goods, building manufacturing and production capacities, strengthening infrastructure projects in the African continent, creating a single continental market for goods and services and facilitating the movement of investors and businessmen to pave the way for a unified customs union on the continent.

The Central Bank of Russia released a commemorative coin to mark the importance of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum. On one side of the coin: the logo of the Russian Federation, on the other side: the logo of the summit, at the top: a color photograph of the Russian Federation, on the bottom: the African continent, on the left: the name of the hosting city "Sochi", and on the right: the year of the Summit and Forum "2019".

New Frameworks for the Afro-Russian Partnership

The Russian-African Summit and Forum provides a positive momentum to strengthen the trilateral cooperation between Egypt, Russia and Africa in order to promote sustainable development and stability in the continent. The summit will launch a new phase in the history of Russian-African relations.

Egypt is the first partner of Russia in the African continent as the volume of trade exchange between Cairo and Moscow is 40% of the volume of trade exchange between Russia and the African continent.

Egypt is also the first and natural starting point for the Egyptian-Russian cooperation with the countries of the continent in light of the projects being implemented in Egypt, especially the Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, which is a huge project with investments of about $7 billion and provides 35,000 jobs. It will also pave the way to start joint manufacturing

projects, localize industry and export to the markets of many countries in different geographical areas.

Egypt is Russia's starting point for Africa and a number of other gatherings in the world under the cooperation agreements signed by Egypt with a large number of Arab, African and international communities with a population of 1.5 billion people.

In the same context, the Russian side's keenness to strengthen relations with African countries in all fields was evident in the Russian Foreign Ministry's recent assertion that Africa is an important partner for Russia, and that relations with African countries are independent and unaffected by fluctuations in the international community. Russia added that advanced agricultural and technical projects, medicine, energy-saving technologies, logistics and infrastructure projects open up broad prospects for strengthening economic cooperation between Moscow and Africa. On the other hand, many African countries look forward to diversifying their partnership with the Russian side on the basis of mutual interests and full respect for national sovereignty.

According to a report prepared by the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, the volume of trade exchange between Russia and the African countries has increased since 2016.Trade exchange in 2018 grew by 1.7% to reach $ 20.4 billion. Russian exports grew by 18.2 percent to reach $ 17.5 billion, while imports grew by 11.5 percent to reach $ 2.9 billion. Russia's trade surplus was $ 14.6 billion.

The increase in trade growth in 2018 compared to the previous year is mainly due to the growth of exports of Russian food products and primary products for agricultural production by 27.8% to reach to $ 4.6 billion, and mineral products and ore by 63.2% to reach $ 3.1 billion. On the other hand, imports of African mineral products grew by 78.1 percent to reach $ 367.7 million and the chemical industry products by 2.5 times to reach $ 254.2 million.

The last five years have witnessed a remarkable growth in the activities of Russian companies in a number of African countries including Zimbabwe, Angola, Gabon, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa in many areas including mining, energy and oil. Among the most prominent Russian companies operating in Africa, "Alrosa" for the production of diamonds, and several major companies working in the field of energy such as "Ross Nafta", "Lukoil" and "Gazprom", and "Rosatom" and others.

The major countries, including Russia, view the African continent as an important player in the economic arena and international relations thanks to its natural and human resources and its huge economic potential. The business environment has improved significantly in a number of African countries, which has contributed to the increase of foreign direct investment in the continent, in addition to the rapid growth of a number of economic sectors in Africa such as trade and energy.

Russia seeks to take advantage of the economic, trade and investment opportunities available on the African continent to enhance its economic growth especially with the launch of the AfCFTA and the growing interest of the major economic powers.

China, for example, continuously seeks to enhance its trade and investment presence on the continent through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and the Belt and Road Initiative, while, Japan has strengthened its partnership with African countries through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).

Favourable areas of cooperation between Russia and Africa include agriculture, energy, technology transfer, science, education, innovations, infrastructure, mining, nuclear technology and transport.

Despite the successive crises that have hit the world economy in recent years, the list of countries with the fastest growing economies in the recent period included at least 10 African countries. The volume of foreign direct investment (FDI) in African countries has increased by more than 5 times in the last 10 years. These are all indicators that underline Africa's rich human and natural resources for sustainable development and pave the way for strengthening the economic partnership between Russia and Africa.

Business programme

The business programme focuses on key areas of cooperation between Russia and African countries and is centred around three thematic pillars: ‘Forging Economic Ties’, ‘Creating Joint Projects’, and ‘Collaborating in the Humanitarian and Social Sector’.

The programme was put together with the participation of the African side based on a thorough analysis of the prospects for cooperation between the countries.

Thanks to the joint work of business associations, experts, diplomats, and scientists, the Russia–Africa Forum will serve as a comprehensive platform and give a new impetus to the development of joint projects on both continents.

The ‘Forging Economic Ties’ pillar will feature sessions and discussions on ways to strengthen economic interaction between the countries. The participants will discuss such issues as expanding funding for joint Russian-African transactions, prospects for the development of integration processes and cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Community and Africa, digital transformation and cybersecurity, and the economic sovereignty of African countries. Businesses and the government will use the conclusions reached during the Forum’s discussions to make the necessary decisions aimed at stimulating economic cooperation.

The ‘Creating Joint Projects’ pillar will focus on existing and potential joint projects in the oil and gas, agro-industrial, transport infrastructure, construction, and nuclear power sectors. One of the central themes will be the Russian Industrial Zone that is to begin operations in Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone. The project to create the Russian Industrial Zone, which was conceived and is being

implemented at the level of governments, state development institutions, and the business community, is a trial balloon that has no analogues in terms of public investment and the support mechanism that is being created. The initial successes and conclusions regarding the project’s implementation as well as the potential of its scaling will be discussed during a special session for the first time.

The ‘Collaborating in the Humanitarian and Social Sector’ pillar will look at ways to improve the quality of life on the African continent, provide security, and the requisite level of education and healthcare for the people of Africa.

Activities

Egypt, which currently chairs the African Union, and Russia, has stepped up preparations for the Russia-Africa Summit and the Economic Forum to be held on the sidelines of the summit on October 23-24.

Egypt's Ambassador in Moscow Ehab Nasr and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and North Africa Mikhail Bogdanov held a briefing for ambassadors and representatives of the African diplomatic missions accredited to Moscow on the preparations for the summit at the Russian foreign ministry.

The briefing came as a part of the ongoing consultation and coordination among Egypt, Russia, and the African countries to finalize the summit's preparations.

Nasr stressed that holding this summit will launch a new phase in the Russian- African relations, hailing the progress achieved in the ties.

President Sisi’s message to participants in Russia–Africa Summit

Russia–Africa Summit, which is taking place in Sochi on 23–24 October 2019, encapsulates the historically friendly relations between the African continent and the Russian Federation. This Summit carries great significance as it is the first of its kind to emerge during a period of major global and international transformations. In response to the aspirations of the people it is representing, the summit intends to build a comprehensive framework for expanding Russian– African relations into broader horizons of joint cooperation across different fields.

The African nations and Russia share a common understanding of international relations, based on the principles of respect for the rule of international law, equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Both sides affirm their commitment to support multilateral actions to oppose new international threats, be they terrorism and extremism in all

their forms, or declining growth rates. The two sides share a firm conviction regarding the importance of developing trade flows and supporting mutual investment in such a way as to ensure security, peace and development for the African and Russian people.

African countries have huge potential and opportunities that will allow them, once efforts to streamline their economies have been achieved, to emerge as real global players. In recent years, the nations of this continent have achieved major successes spanning the political, economic, social and administrative spheres.

Africa has flourished in terms of growth over the past decade, reaching a continent-wide growth rate of 3.55% in 2018.

The African Union Summit, which was held in Niger in July 2019, continued the efforts of the African countries and saw the African Continental Free Trade Agreement come into force, along with its operational instruments. The agreement is one of the key objectives of Agenda 2063, an African development strategy that

has been created to address the African people’s desire for prosperity and decent living standards.

These successes are opening up wide-ranging prospects for cooperation between African countries and the Russian Federation, and confirm the determination of African governments and their people to cooperate with multiple partners in order to establish mutually beneficial relations.

With this in mind, we express our hopes that the Russia–Africa Summit will help in the establishment of constructive strategic relations, based on partnership between two sides across various fields, and in the service of fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the Africa.

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