By Kester Kenn Klomegah
The 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF’21) held on June 2-5, and under the theme Together Again – Economy of New Reality provided open platforms to exchange the best entrepreneurship practices and key admirable competencies in providing sustainable development.
While the theme reflects the ultimate desire and initiative to review post-pandemic steps in connecting Russia with global businesses, outline strategies for stepping up sustainable economic development, it further offered the chance for putting back or revive inter-personal interaction.
Russian President Vladimir Putin explicitly emphasized that point, addressing the plenary session on June 4, “We are pleased that it is Russia that is hosting the first global business event after a long forced break where members of the global business community can communicate with each other not only using advance telecommunication technologies but in-person as well.”
In his address to forum participants, who came mostly from Europe, Asia and Africa, Putin talked about some economic achievements and tasks facing Russia. He further spoke about the importance of national projects as drivers of economic growth, the vaccines and foreign tourism, as well as the readiness to forge closer and long-term economic, scientific, and technical cooperation with its foreign partners and share experience in various significant economic areas.
Putin was joined via video link by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, to address the gathering. According to forum documents, about 2,000 foreign participating groups came to St. Petersburg. There were delegations from Germany, France and Italy, and from Asia such as Qatar, Japan and China.
Qatar mounted the biggest cultural and arts stand. On the territory, the Doha Hall was a space where the heads of ministries and departments, heads of key companies of the country, representatives of public organizations discussed the strengthening of economic and political relations between states, business and cultural ties, cooperation in the field of ecology and nature protection, sports and innovation, health care and information technology.
There were business dialogues between Russia and a number of foreign countries, for example, Russia-Africa. The Russia-Africa Business Dialogue session, moderated by Professor Irina Abramova, Director of the Institute of African Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences, featured Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa.
The Guest Speaker – Eduard Ngirente, Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda; Rania Almashat, Minister of International Cooperation of Egypt; Alexander Saltanov, Chairman of the Association for Economic Cooperation with African States (AECAS); and heads of major Russian and African companies – Transmashholding, Uralchem, Russian Railways, the UN Least Developed Countries Technology Bank, Afreximbank and others took part in the discussion.
The Russia-Africa Business Dialogue session was part of the brainstorming session in preparation for the forthcoming second Russia-Africa summit planned for 2022 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Speakers at the session set the stage and attempted to provide answers to a few questions: What agenda will Russia and Africa follow at the 2022 summit? What business strategy will serve both Russian and African interests? What Russian investment projects had already been implemented on the African continent? Are there new mechanisms and instruments for the Russia-Africa partnership being developed?
“Africa is first and foremost about people. What kind of water they will drink, what they will eat, how they will develop, what kind of education they will have. Our knowledge is our capital and our competitive advantage,” Professor Irina Abramova, Director of the Institute for African Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences, remarked while moderating the session.
As previously and oftentimes, Abramova has explained that cooperation between Russia and Africa must be of a targeted nature, that is, there needs to be a gradual transition to individual concrete work with the specific countries. This will serve as proof of Russia’s deep and systematic approach to its policy for enhancing relations with Africa.
She has also proposed that, in addition to the framework for Russian policy in Africa and Russia’s renewed strategy for foreign economic activity, the Russian Federation develops an implementable trade and investment strategy for Africa, move forward in practical terms in identifying partner countries and in setting concrete objectives.
During his address at the opening, Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente has called upon Russians to consider increasing investment in Africa. That Africa has great opportunities that investors from Russia can take advantage of, among these, are the continent’s young population and workforce, the fast rate at which urbanization is taking place, and the huge potential that has been demonstrated in technological progress in areas like telecommunications and digitization of the society.
“Therefore, advancing our common prosperity agenda would imply translating the existing business opportunities into reality. And this calls for important flows of investments in priority areas,” he said. In addition, pointed at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and regional integrations of economic communities as another priority to advance quickly Africa’s growth agenda and position the continent as an investment destination.
“This could be an opportunity for Russian businesses to invest in infrastructures such as roads, railways, ports, hydropower plants, and internet connectivity that facilitate trade on the continent of 1.3 billion consumers. The investment required is estimated at US$130 billion to US$170 billion per year,” he said.
He also highlighted the need for Africa to build its own capacity, working together with partners including Russia, to undertake scientific research to manufacture vaccines for various diseases, including Covid-19.
Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa noted that Russian-African cooperation is gaining new momentum ahead of the second Russia-Africa summit in 2022, and recalled the need to create mechanisms to support Russian business in Africa, citing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s message to African leaders on the occasion of Africa Day on 25 May.
“Today, we have reached a point where there is a need to intensify our cooperation by creating new fundamental mechanisms to support Russian business in Africa through so-called economic diplomacy, which consists of close cooperation between the Russian Foreign Ministry and line ministries and organizations,” he said.
Bogdanov informed that the Secretariat of Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, created in 2020 on the instruction of the Russian president, has become the main body to organize the upcoming Russia-Africa summit, develop and intensify friendly and effective bilateral business dialogue with African countries.
The Association of Economic Cooperation with African States (AECAS) was also established, headed by Alexander Saltanov, who for many years the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister with responsibility for Africa direction.
Taking his turn at the session, Alexander Saltanov, Chairman of AECAS, remarked that the need for state support for Russian companies is crucial for making a real breakthrough on the African continent, – and in this sense, it is a useful idea to create Direct Investment Fund.
Saltanov further spoke of the need to create representative offices, logistics, and service centres of Russian business in the form of public-private partnerships in several countries or regions of Africa to organize systematic sales of Russian products on the continent.
“We can also use the experience of the Soviet Union to work in Africa – for example, creating a foreign trade company that would coordinate efforts in a particular country or in a particular region of Africa to assemble the products offered by Russian business in the market. One company will probably not be able to cope with this, but when there is some structure working in this direction, it will speed up the process,” he stressed.
Saltanov said that an essential topic on the Russian-African cooperation agenda relates promotion of information. Information exchange in terms of business is also necessary – an agreement was signed during the SPIEF’21 to create a Russia-Africa Common Information Space. A full-scale presentation of this project scheduled for October.
Rapidly growing Africa is a promising market for Russian companies. “We, as Russian Railways, see Africa as our promising market due to the fact that Africa is developing dynamically. Today, this continent and its countries are emerging as leaders, including in terms of social and economic indicators.
We expect Egypt to be the starting point from which we will begin interacting with other countries. We also see some opportunities in Tanzania. And of course, Ghana, Botswana, Morocco are of great interest to our holding company,” stressed Sergey Pavlov, First Deputy Managing Director, Russian Railways.
“Egypt is an African country that is also developing investment programmes. We have important projects with the Russian Federation – the nuclear power plant in El Dabaa, which is a huge investment of US$13 billion. Egypt is a gateway to other African countries. We have done a lot in terms of developing transport partnerships between our neighbours, with our African neighbours. We are developing road projects, we are developing construction projects, we are also developing private companies,” according to Rania Almashat, Minister of International Cooperation of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Africa’s growing and emerging market need modern technology. “Another interesting area we want to develop in Africa is the digitalization of agriculture, various digital platforms that we are already successfully applying in Russia. Digital itself is useless unless it comes with infrastructure and with applicable things. Thus, digital is simply an accelerator for us,” Dmitry Konyaev, Chairman of the Board of Directors, UralChem.
Konyaev suggested that, given the crucial importance of direct contacts between African heads of state and the Russian leadership, it should be necessary to intensify the work of all bilateral intergovernmental commissions.
“Of course, Africa is no exception in terms of all the global trends that we are seeing around the world today. Mainly, it is a growing population, urbanization, and the development of new technologies. It is the development of transport accessibility for both passengers and freight. It is the construction of port infrastructure. In all of these aspects, Russia certainly has all the necessary technologies and competencies to finally go back to these trade, economic and mainly social relations,” Kirill Lipa, General Director, Transmashholding.
Economic diplomacy, strengthening of intergovernmental commissions and increased number of mutual visits. “After the Sochi summit, all efforts were focused on launching export to Africa. It is not easy, because 30 years after we left the region, we need to enter a competitive environment. This competitive environment has already been integrated into African life, into African legislation, and the conditions that are opening up for Russian business today – they are not quite the same as those for businessmen from France, the European Union, India, or China,” according to Igor Morozov, Member of the Committee for Economy Policy of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation.
As head of the Coordination Committee on Economic Cooperation with Africa (AfroCom) established in 2009, Senator Igor Morozov hopes that the e-rouble will help or encourage Russian banks to enter the African continent after all and do their best to participate in financing Russian-African start-ups, Russian-African trade and, of course, in localizing Russian-African production.
Speakers at the session believe that mutual advancement by both African governments and businesses could drive further cooperation between Russia and Africa. “Investing in the private sector can unlock the full potential of our continent and implement our plans. We are keen to increase our cooperation with Russia for the benefit of the whole continent,” in the objective opinion of Rania Almashat, Minister of International Cooperation of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
“Today, the concession model primarily provides for initial and significant input by the investor. In this situation, I think in order to help Africa develop dynamically and rapidly, these concession models need to be revised, more attention needs to be paid, including to security and guarantees from the government, from the state, so that the investor feels protected,” added Sergey Pavlov, First Deputy Managing Director, Russian Railways.
Over these several years, Russians have been discussing and referring to priority economic areas of cooperation in Africa. Some experts have also been stressing the importance of getting down to implement specific programmes and projects. Have repeatedly spoken about the systemic efforts, with well-developed guidelines, to boost the investment into the continent.
After the first Russia-Africa summit held 2019, expectations are skyline high as it offers the impetus, in the next few years, to substantially increase investment in the economy, industry, transport, telecommunications and tourist infrastructures, as well as in high technology, healthcare, urban development, and other fields that are vital to the quality of life. Africa, with its 1.3 billion population and resources, offers great opportunities for both states, corporate and private initiatives in investment spheres.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the forum this year was held, a combination of an offline and online format, with all epidemiological precautions observed. The Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), often dubbed the Russian Davos, is the country’s main showcase for investors, attracting political and business leaders from around the world. The SPIEF is held annually, and since 2006 it has been held under patronage and with the participation of the President of the Russian Federation.
Empowering Women in the Changing World
By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Women play an increasingly important role in resolving issues that society and the state encounter and in the modern world, they should not face the choice between family and self-fulfilment, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the third Eurasian Women’s Forum held in St. Petersburg on October 13-15.
“It is completely obvious that in modern conditions a woman should not face the choice between children and family or professional fulfilment. That is why in Russia the conditions are consistently created for a woman after childbirth to begin or resume her professional career at any moment, to become accomplished, to achieve growth in what she enjoys,” Mr Putin stressed.
The Eurasian Women’s Forum, held since 2015, is one of the largest international platforms uniting female leaders from all continents to examine and discuss the role of women in the modern world and work out new approaches to solving global problems.
The forum was organized by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS).
Speaker of the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, gave the opening speech at the plenary session. She stressed that the main goal of the global women’s community is to improve people’s quality of life as well as build mutual understanding and trust between countries and peoples in the name of peace and sustainable development.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Viktoria Abramchenko, noted in her speech that women are directly involved in implementing these tasks in Russia and on international platforms.
Vietnamese Vice President, Vo Thi Anh Xuan, made a video conference presentation. She said that the Forum is bringing together the majority of women around the world. “The role of women today is extremely important. We can make the world more just and help fight global challenges,” she said.
Chairwoman of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan Sahiba Ali gizi Gafarova believes that the topics discussed at the Eurasian Women’s Forum provide an opportunity to consider the most pressing issues of modern life and enhance women’s status around the world. Gafarova stated that fully unleashing women’s potential would be the foundation for building a healthy society.
Chairwoman of the Senate of Uzbekistan Tanzila Narbaeva noted that the forum once again demonstrated women’s growing role in resolving the socioeconomic issues facing their countries. The Forum demonstrates new approaches to the women’s agenda, she said.
Narbaeva stressed that Uzbekistan is ready to share its experience in various areas and is open to cooperation. She invited the participants to take part in the women’s forum during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in 2022, planned in Samarkand.
Chairwoman of the Lower Chamber of Parliament of Turkmenistan, Gulshat Mammedova, said the forum is an important platform for interaction between women and helps to harmonize efforts in addressing various issues of the changing world as well as exchange views and experience in promoting women’s rights.
Participation of African women was modest, that included for example President of the Senate of Gabon Lucie Milebou Aubusson, Liberian Dr Jewel Howard-Taylor and Zimbabwean First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa among a few others. President of the Assembly of Mozambique, Esperança Laurinda Francisco Nhiuane Bias, delivered a speech at the forum.
Zimbabwean First Lady, Auxillia Mnangagwa, on the sidelines held a special working discussion with the Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Valentina Matviyenko, focusing on developing inter-parliamentary relations, women in sustainable development, education and charity.
The First Lady and the Speaker snapshotted the possibility of greater participation of Russian economic operators in the development process in the southern African region. Both women have expressed an appreciation for cooperating on common questions on international platforms. Diplomatic relations between the two marked their 40th year.
On October 15, African women took part in an exclusive discussion solely on “the Role of Women in the Integrated Development of the African Continent” at the Tauride Palace. It was attended by women from international organizations, business circles, the scientific community and non-governmental organizations.
The entire third forum was held offline using modern formats such as video conferencing and online broadcast, intended to ensure extended outreach and provide audience engagement. The physical presence was organized in strict accordance with safety measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
UK Flags Borno, Yobe, Others as Danger Zones
By Ashemriogwa Emmanuel
The United Kingdom (UK) has advised its citizens against travelling to some northern and middle belt states in Nigeria it described as danger zones as a result of the heightened kidnap cases and increased insecurity in those regions.
These states include Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River.
In a travel advisory for its nationals released on Saturday, October 16, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced to foreign nationals that there was a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria for ideological, financial or political reasons.
According to the advisory, “The groups have previously shown intent and capability to conduct kidnaps in Nigeria. Foreign nationals, including humanitarian workers, are likely targets for kidnap.
“Humanitarian hubs and workers have been targeted during attacks in the North East, including Monguno, Borno State on June 13, 2020.
“There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Kidnaps can be motivated by criminality or terrorism and could be carried out for ideological, financial or political gain. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the risk of kidnap increases after dark.
“The security environment in the North East has deteriorated since 2018 and there is a heightened risk of kidnap. Kidnaps in the North East have included humanitarian and private-sector workers.
“There are also reports that Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa, ISWA, are continuing to actively plan to kidnap foreigners.
“In North-East Nigeria, extremist groups operate in some northern and middle belt states, including Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa states. If you’re working or travelling in these states then you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnapping.”
The information also disclosed the increased protests and demonstrations in the South East region of Nigeria Since August 9, 2021, warning that stay-at-home protests are likely during October in the South East region.
“There have been reports of violence during Stay at Home protests previously. You should monitor local media, avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings and follow any instructions from local police and security forces.
“There have been a number of attacks and targeted killings in the South-east and Southsouth regions of Nigeria, including in the states of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Delta, Edo and Ebonyi.
“Some of these attacks have been on isolated roads and in remote locations, but there is a chance that they could occur in metropolitan areas. There is also a heightened risk of indiscriminate attacks on police and security infrastructure, which may inadvertently affect bystanders,” it read.
The UK government then advised travellers to these regions to exercise caution if travelling in remote areas at night and follow local news outlets for further information.
New US Travel Rules Excludes Foreigners Vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V
By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Local and foreign media have stepped up reports about rising COVID-19 infections in Russia. While the reports indicated high deaths in the country, the other highlighted new trends that are noticeably appearing there.
Interestingly, directors at the Russian tourism and travel agencies say that many Russians are lining up for vaccine tourism in Serbia, Bulgaria and Germany and a few other foreign countries.
These Russians aim at getting foreign vaccines including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.
Here are a few facts about Russian vaccines.
Russia’s Sputnik V was the first officially registered coronavirus vaccine on August 11, 2020. Russia is using four vaccines for mass vaccination for COVID-19. These are Sputnik V and Sputnik Light developed by the Russian Health Ministry’s Gamaleya Center.
EpiVacCorona developed by the Vector Center of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor), and CoviVac developed by the Chumakov Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Clinical trials of the EpiVacCorona vaccine on teens aged from 15 to 17 might begin in the near future.
China has a 1.3 billion population and has given the two billionth vaccine by the end of August, the United States has 380 million and has vaccinated 60% of its population. In Europe, the vaccination rate is high at an appreciable level.
Overall, Russia with an estimated 146 million people has Europe’s highest death toll from the pandemic, nearly 210,000 people as of September 30, according to various authentic sources including the National Coronavirus Task Force.
More than 42 million Russians have received both components of a coronavirus vaccine, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova.
“The number of citizens who have received the first component of a vaccine has topped 44 million, and more than 37 million people have completed a full vaccination course,” Golikova said.
She gave an assurance back in July that once the population have been immunized with at least the first component of a two-shot vaccine, herd immunity to COVID-19, or at least an 80% vaccination rate, should be reached by November 1.
Even though Russia boasted of creating the world’s first coronavirus vaccines, vaccination is very low. Critics have principally blamed a botched vaccine rollout and mixed messages the authorities have been sending about the outbreak.
In addition, coronavirus antibody tests are popular in Russia and some observers suggest this contributes to the low vaccination numbers.
Western health experts say the antibody tests are unreliable either for diagnosing COVID-19 or assessing immunity to it. The antibodies that these tests look for can only serve as evidence of a past infection. Scientists say it’s still unclear what level of antibodies indicates that a person has protection from the virus and for how long.
Russia has registered Sputnik V in more than 150 foreign countries. The World Health Organization is yet to register this vaccine. For its registration, it must necessarily pass through approved procedures, so far Russia has ignored them, according to reports.
There have also been several debates after the World Health Organization paused its review process of the Sputnik V vaccine over concerns about its manufacturing process, and few other technical reasons. While some talked about politicizing the vaccine registration, others have faced facts of observing recognized international rules for certifying medical products as such vaccines.
During the first week of October, Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko has reiterated or repeated assertively that a certain package of documents was needed to continue the process for the approval of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V by the World Health Organization. The final approval is expected towards the end of 2021.
Still, one of the problems with registration is unfair competition in the global market. For instance, Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel on October 5: “I think it is an element of competition. Until Pfizer covers a certain part of the market, it is pure economics.”
On the other side, Pyotr Ilyichev, Director for International Organization at the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, told Interfax News Agency, for instance, that World Health Organization has been playing politics around Russian vaccine especially when it is needed in most parts of the world.
“The world is facing an acute shortage of vaccines for the novel coronavirus infection. In certain regions, for instance in African countries, less than 2% of the population has been vaccinated. The Russian vaccine is in demand, and the UN stands ready to buy it,” he told Interfax.
“However, certification in the WHO is a complex, multi-step process, which was developed in the past in line with Western countries’ standards. It requires time and serious efforts from our producers. We hope that this process will be successfully finalized in the near future,” Ilyichev said.
Chairman of the State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky has described as discriminatory a decision reported by foreign media that the United States, under its new consular rules, would deny entry for foreigners immunized with the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V.
“Thus, the U.S. will blatantly embark on a path of ‘vaccine discrimination.’ There are absolutely no grounds for such decisions. The efficacy and safety of the Sputnik V vaccine have been confirmed not only by specialists but also by its use in practice,” Slutsky said on Telegram.
He cited an article in The Washington Post saying that from November the United States may begin denying entry to foreigners vaccinated with Sputnik V.
It means that if such additional border measures are adopted, foreigners seeking entry to the United States will have to be immunized with vaccines approved for use either by American authorities or the World Health Organization.
According to an article published in The Washington Post, for the first time since the pandemic began, the United States intends to loosen entry restrictions for foreigners vaccinated against COVID-19.
The new rules, which enter into force in November, will not apply to Russians vaccinated with Sputnik V and citizens of other countries using this Russian vaccine.
Under the new rules, foreigners will enter the United States only if they are immunized with vaccines approved for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. Russia’s Sputnik V is yet to be approved by the World Health Organization and is not recognized by the United States.
Like Our Facebook Page
Latest News on Business Post
- NGX Group Gains 10% to Lift Stock Market by 0.26% October 21, 2021
- Naira Appreciates to N414.07/$1 as Bitcoin Hits $66k October 21, 2021
- Oil Prices Continue Ascent as US Crude Inventories Drop October 21, 2021
- Unlisted Securities Extend Rally by 0.38% at Midweek October 21, 2021
- Turkey Sees Bilateral Trade Volume with Nigeria Expanding to $5bn October 20, 2021
- 2021 NGX Market Data Workshop Gathers Momentum October 20, 2021
- What You Need to Know About Education Trust October 20, 2021
- ADVAN Kicks Against APCON’s Code of Conduct October 20, 2021
- We Cater for Over 17.5 Million Nigerian Orphans—SOS Children’s Villages October 20, 2021
- 200 Retirees in Jigawa to Share N331.7m October 20, 2021
Feature/OPED2 years ago
Davos was Different this year
Economy5 years ago
Kwara Disburses N1.7b For Projects
Technology10 months ago
How To Link Your MTN, Airtel, Glo, 9mobile Lines to NIN
Travel/Tourism5 years ago
Lagos Seals Western Lodge Hotel In Ikorodu
Economy5 years ago
How To Identify Fake Naira Notes
Banking3 years ago
Sort Codes of GTBank Branches in Nigeria
Economy4 years ago
FAAC: FG, States, LGs Share N655.18b in January
Economy4 years ago
NSE Market Capitalisation Sheds N76b as Sell‐offs Persist