Post Africa-Russia Summit Internal Russian Government Reaction
Guinea diplomat Lama Jaques Sevoba shows off Putin shirt at Russia-Africa Summit
During 2 August’s Meeting with Government Members, a report summing up the Summit was provided by Minister of Economic Development Mikhail Reshetnikov. The Summit more than confirmed the correctness of Russia’s African policy. The West’s in such a tizzy about Russia’s success that it blamed Russia for the Niger coup, a patent absurdity. Before continuing, here’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokeswoman Maria Zakharova with the update she delivered at her weekly briefing today:
We continue to closely monitor developments in the friendly Republic of Niger, where President M. Bazoum was removed from power on July 26 by a group of servicemen, and the creation of the National Council for the Defense of the Motherland was announced, whose task is to govern the country at the current stage. We share the concerns expressed by the UN Secretary-General, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) about the situation in Niger.
We consider it extremely important to prevent further degradation of the situation in the country. We believe that it is an urgent task to organize a national dialogue to restore civil peace and ensure law and order. As a positive factor, we note that the development of events is proceeding according to a peaceful scenario and is not overshadowed by human casualties.
We have to admit that the current crisis in Niger is taking place against the backdrop of a difficult security situation and the extremely difficult socio-economic situation of the population of that State.
When looking for ways to resolve the conflict in Niger, we continue to proceed from the principle of "African solutions to African problems". We hope that vigorous mediation efforts will be made through the African Union and subregional organizations to help Nigerian society emerge from the crisis. At the same time, we believe that the threat of the use of force against a sovereign state will not contribute to détente and resolve the situation in the country.
We hope that the people of Niger, with whom we have long-standing relations of friendship and cooperation, will be able to successfully overcome this difficult period in their history. We are committed to further developing the entire range of mutually beneficial Russian-Niger ties.
During the Q&A of her briefing, the following Q was posed about the Summit’s success that complements the view from inside the government. In conclusion, Maria put the MFA’s spin on the affair. (Bolded text is original):
Question: The German media portray the Russia-Africa Summit as a failure. What are the key results of the summit? "COMPACT-TV" broadcasts directly in Germany, bypassing Western censorship.
Maria Zakharova: I think the NATO summit was a failure. Everyone came there. The question is: why? How did it all end? A wild scandal, a demonstration of an absolute lack of understanding and even more unity in the ranks, a presentation to the whole world of a dictator fed on Western money, a monster whom they did not include both in NATO and directly in the circle of people with whom there would be some kind of conversation "on an equal footing". Even protocol. This is a failure.
The Russia-Africa summit was held with success and scale, which no one in the alliance ever dreamed of. I understand how modern summits are held. As a rule, protocol, behind closed doors, then a press conference. The Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg in 2023 was not traditional, but revolutionary. I believe that this is the summit of the future. It combined elements of high-level meetings, an exhibition of samples of what agreements and contracts were signed about or future decisions were developed (an exposition was launched before the Expoforum). If Western journalists had allowed themselves to write the truth, they would have told their audience how everything was organized. Let's go through the numbers and facts.
The summit was attended by official delegations of African countries. 27 states were represented at the level of first and second persons. Two plenary sessions were held.
During the discussions, the participants expressed their commitment to jointly build a new, more equitable multipolar architecture of the world order based on the sovereign equality of states and mutually beneficial cooperation. The most important thesis for today's world, which, unfortunately, by and large does not sound anywhere else. We used to hear from international organizations of the UN system.
Now, unfortunately, the world Organization rarely uses words such as justice in the context of the future world order. They rarely talk about international law, they talk about the true sovereign equality of states in practice. The summit reincarnated all these things and showed how many states and regional structures (only in the Russia-Africa direction) are committed to this. If we combine them with the number of countries in the Global South, we get the majority in the world.
Five key documents were adopted: four declarations (1, 2, 3, 4) and the Action Plan of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum for 2023-2026. Two documents were signed with leading African integration associations: the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Intergovernmental Organization for Development (IGAD) on the Foundations of Relations and Cooperation and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on the Foundations of Relations and Cooperation.
Nine thousand participants, two thousand journalists (400-500 international). In addition to representatives of Russia and the African continent, there were also representatives from other states. Thousands of representatives of foreign business. More than two thousand - Russian. About 1100 participants of foreign official delegations. 59 panel sessions with 457 speakers were held. Four main areas were identified: "New World Economy", "Cooperation in the Field of Science and Technology", "Humanitarian and Social Sphere: Together to a New Quality of Life" and "Integrated Security and Sovereign Development". A media forum was held. 161 agreements were signed. Held: youth and cultural program, film festival, gastronomic project, etc.
It was a real forum of the future. The way they should go. Without dividing into "jungle" and "beautiful gardens", without segregation on any grounds, without handing out labels, to what extent this or that state is democratic. There was equality, a focus on peaceful development, justice and rejection of any form of colonialism, imperialism, racial discrimination. True sovereignty and mutual respect based on international law, first of all, the UN Charter.
I’d say that was a broadside. And all the above is why it was documented and disseminated. But that was a recap of numbers; what of the substance for Russia specifically and what can Africa expect from Russia? Let’s read what Mr. Reshetnikov reported:
Vladimir Putin: Maxim Gennadyevich, what is the economic dimension of the Russia – Africa summit?
Mikhail Reshetnikov: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, Dear colleagues!
The Russia-Africa Summit gave a powerful impetus to the development of various areas: from trade, agriculture and energy to transport, IT, and tourism. Thanks to your bilateral meetings with African leaders, we were able to better understand their vision of their countries ' development and discuss specific issues. And of course, all this helps us to find new points of cooperation with each of these countries.
The main result of the summit: Africa remains a key ally and a promising strategic partner of our country. Why is this so important to us?
First, it is a region with a rapidly growing population. Now the continent is home to almost one and a half billion people, by 2030 the population will increase by another 200 million, and by 2100 demographers predict more than 3.5 billion people living on this continent. At the same time, the region expects rapid growth due to the catch-up development of the economy. Over the past decades, the African economy has grown at twice the global average. Africa is now at the beginning of the path that the rapidly growing countries of Southeast Asia, India, and China have already taken in many ways. It is no coincidence that there is such an active interest in the continent from other countries. Those who now build cooperation with the region will receive a valuable economic partner for decades to come.
For our business, this is a huge, rapidly developing market, primarily in agriculture. Last year alone, we exported eleven million tons of wheat to Africa. For the first half of this year – almost nine million tons more. Africa will also increase agricultural production itself, which means that these are new markets for the export of our fertilizers, technologies for soil restoration and plant protection. Our agricultural machinery manufacturers could also arrange the delivery of their products there, and in the future – large-unit assembly. Absolutely all countries expressed interest in cooperation in this area during the meeting.
The growth of the population and economy is always an increase in electricity consumption. We can produce electricity, build and operate hydro and nuclear power plants. Serious interest was shown in the nuclear energy sector at all the meetings. Moreover, we are also developing solar power generation, and we have technologies in this area.
At the same time, it should be noted that half of the continent's population still does not have access to electricity. What is the norm in our country is not available for half of the people there. Therefore, traditional energy based on the burning of coal and gas will also be in demand. Moreover, it will also require an increase in oil refining, including the production of petroleum products. This is exactly all that Russia is ready to offer, all those areas where we have our own technologies.
Africa has the richest resource base, and colleagues are asking for help to master the technologies of mining and production of many minerals. Therefore, our joint projects in Namibia, Tanzania, and Burkina Faso on the development of deposits and extraction of minerals are promising, including projects related to the extraction and processing of rare earth metals, of which there are many in Africa.
Africa is increasing the pace of urbanization, which means that Russian experience in the development of cities and agglomerations, transport systems, and digitalization will be in demand. Russian companies have experience and readiness to participate in the construction of housing, roads, railways, ports, oil and gas pipelines, utility networks, supply and assemble trucks, railway rolling stock, and urban transport. All countries voiced a request to develop cooperation in the field of urbanism.
The digital agenda is in high demand. These are issues of building public administration, protecting property rights, introducing tax administration technologies, and interaction between the state and the population. And here it is appropriate for us to expand technical assistance in implementing Russian digital developments in these countries and, accordingly, provide additional resources for this.
African countries are moving from fighting for political sovereignty to fighting for economic sovereignty. They see us as a reliable partner and are ready to give Russian businesses the opportunity to develop and earn money. Economic cooperation has gained additional momentum since 2019, when the first summit was held. Our mutual trade turnover has been growing for three years in a row, and last year it amounted to $ 18 billion. In the first half of the year, an increase of another 35 percent.
On the one hand, tenfold growth over the past 20 years is a good indicator. On the other hand, for example, with the countries of the Eurasian Economic Community, where the population is seven times smaller, our trade turnover is four and a half times larger. This means that the potential is very large and the task is to at least increase and double this figure by 2030.
There is also a regional imbalance. Six North African countries accounted for almost two-thirds of our trade turnover last year, so it is important for us to intensify contacts with other countries as well. We will solve this problem by increasing insurance support for deliveries through EXIAR, our state-run export development institute, connecting African banks to the Russian financial messaging system, building an independent financial and payment infrastructure, and developing the mechanism of free trade agreements. Together with our colleagues from the Eurasian Economic Community, we are currently negotiating with Egypt and working on the issue with Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
For the development of trade, transport corridors are also needed, so now we are working on the placement of the Russian port logistics hub and cargo base on the east coast of Africa. This will be one of the extensions of the North – South corridor, which we are currently actively developing.
It is impossible to support the active development of the continent only at the expense of the resources accumulated there. The continent will need direct investment, including, of course, we need to increase Russian investment there. Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Logvinovich Overchuk has sent you proposals to create a special investment fund that will support private investments of our companies. It is necessary to develop existing mechanisms to support investment, including concessions and industrial clusters. A striking example is the Russian industrial zone in Egypt, which we expect to launch in the near future.
We prepare all solutions only taking into account the protection and additional guarantees of investment security. As of today, we have concluded six interstate agreements on the promotion and mutual protection of investments with the countries of the continent. But this, of course, is not enough. Two agreements are still in the works. We will continue to increase this practice.
It is also necessary to speed up the work on concluding agreements for the avoidance of double taxation. As soon as we start investing, Russian business raises this issue.
Another task that you have set is to provide better administrative support for Russian companies entering African markets. What do we offer?
First, expand the geography of intergovernmental commissions. We currently have 18 of them with the countries of the continent. We suggest that such intergovernmental commissions should also be formed with those countries that already have promising projects. During your meetings, you instructed us to do this with Cameroon and Senegal. We also consider it appropriate to establish such a mechanism with Rwanda and Cote d'Ivoire, and to create at least working groups with those countries where cooperation is still being initiated. For example, we signed a memorandum on the establishment of such a working group with the Republic of Mali – together with the Malian Foreign Ministry.
The second point is that we suggest redirecting additional employees from unfriendly countries to Africa through our embassies, trade missions, and economic advisers. Here we ask for the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The third point is that working in the African direction, of course, will require additional hands and competencies in the Ministry of Economic Development. That is why we are asking you to support the initiative to re-establish the Department for Interaction with African countries in the Ministry's structure, and perhaps allocate some additional resources for this as well.
Within the framework of increasing humanitarian cooperation, the key track is education. We train doctors, teachers, engineers, managers, and industrial specialists for Africa. This includes the personnel that will be required for our joint projects. Your decision to double the admission of students from Africa to Russian universities was very positively received by all the leaders of African countries.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, the summit has shown that there is a lot of work to be done to support exports, investment, sustainable development, and the humanitarian track. In the near future, together with our colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Roscongress, which was the organizer of this event, under the leadership of the Government, we will prepare a draft of your instructions on the summit results and report back to you in addition.
Vladimir Putin: We are preparing agreements on free trade zones with Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria – these are all North Africa. There, on the continent, there are much more so-called development points and there are very interesting countries. Therefore, we should never miss out on other regions. The continent is simply huge, and it will be quite obvious, according to many experts, to develop very positively. It will catch up with what was missed, perhaps, over the previous decades. Therefore, it is necessary to take a comprehensive approach to these issues, be sure to take a comprehensive look, not to snatch something traditional.
You have seen, and we have all seen, that they feel that Russia is a friend, and we treat African countries as friends. We need to transform this level of political trust into economic cooperation.
Russia is already busily developing a shared industrial zone with Egypt which it would like to use as a model for further expansion in Africa and elsewhere. As noted, the overall balance of engagement in Africa must be enlarged. One of the key topics discussed at the Summit was energy. The other is transportation networks to facilitate commerce within Africa. The Colonials built roads and rails from the interiors to the coasts to haul out the riches and did next to nothing to aid local development beyond what was needed for themselves. All three major players—Africans, Russians, Chinese—embrace the same fundamental development philosophy—People Centered Development allowing for Africans to develop Africa the African way. That’s why Africans have valued the training they get at Russian institutions so highly, and that’s also why Russia’s again expanding its subsidies for scholarships. The resulting soft power results are very apparent. And we should recall what Marx said about capitalism, that it is revolutionary. Guided/managed in a way that the results are to benefit the masses not the few, it can lay the groundwork for a quasi-socialist society. There are more than enough lessons and examples of what not to do and what not to allow to occur to keep reactionary forces at bay. But it must also be recalled—and there are too many examples of this within Africa—that such people can rise from within the nation, not just from afar. Pleonexia isn’t an affliction that only affects Western people.
Like what you’ve been reading at Karlof1’s Substack? Then please consider subscribing and choosing to make a monthly/yearly pledge to enable my efforts in this challenging realm. Thank You!