The Second Russia-Africa Summit and Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum has commenced here yesterday with a pledge by the Russian government to deepen cooperation and bilateral relations with African countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at a plenary to open the two-day event said he was very optimistic about the prospects of developing full range of ties between Russia and African nations in political, economic and humanitarian areas.
He said Russia was ready to help strengthen African countries’ sovereignty and contribute to Africa becoming a key partner in the new system of the multipolar world order.
The two-day summit is being attended by heads of state and government, as well as representatives of the vast majority of African countries, regional associations and organisations.
President Putin said despite the difficulties created by the coronavirus pandemic and the illegal sanctions imposed against Russia, it ensured the growth of trade and economic ties with Africa.
“Our mutual trade reached approximately 18 billion US dollars in 2022 and increased by nearly 35 percent in the first six months of 2023,” he said.
Russia, he said remained a reliable food supplier for Africa adding that in 2022, Russian food exports amounted to 4.7 billion US dollars.
“Many large Russian companies are successfully working in Africa. The key spheres of our cooperation include energy, subsoil use, agriculture. There are good opportunities for cooperation in research and technology, education and culture,” he said.
He said the summit would be used as an opportunity to discuss practical decisions on building up trade and economic cooperation, ensuring food and energy security, and developing national healthcare systems.
He said Africa’s potential was obvious to everyone saying that “For example, the average annual GDP growth on the continent in the past 20 years was 4-4.5 percent, which exceeds the world’s average. Africa’s population is approaching 1.5 billion and is growing faster than anywhere else in the world.”
He said ” It is also notable that the middle class, which creates the principal demand for modern goods and services, is growing faster in Africa than in the majority of other parts of the world.”
He said Russia’s government, business keen furthering the deepening multifaceted trade, investment and humanitarian ties with the continent.
He said Russia-Africa trade reached 18 billion US dollars last year.
“It is an obvious result of the Russia-Africa Summit held in Sochi. I have no doubt that by working together we will be able to increase our trade substantially in the near future. Incidentally, in the first six months of 2023 alone, our export-import transactions with African countries increased by over one third,” he said.
The Chairperson of the African Union and the President of Comoros Gazali Othmani, said the goal of Africa was to build fair partnerships with all countries in the international system, especially in the economic field.
The summit he said offered an opportunity for African countries and organisations to strengthen future cooperation with Russia.
He recognized Russia’s strong presence in Africa through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and emphasized Africa’s aspiration to build equitable partnerships with all countries in the international system, especially in the economic field.
Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairmanof the Board of Directors, African Export-Import Bank stressed the need the deepening of trade relations between Africa and Russia.