By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Under the aegis of the newly established Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Russians are now gearing up to revamp the Ajaokuta Steel Industry that was abandoned after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and further take up energy, oil and gas projects in Nigeria, as well as facilitate trade between Nigeria and Russia.
After the Soviet’s collapse, Russia has been struggling to find ways of regaining part of its Soviet-era economic influence throughout Africa, and Nigeria has been high on Russia’s agenda for reviving multifaceted business ties, at least to share its market and take up opportunities similar to the United States and China.
There had been a number of deals and business proposals previously, featured in Russia-Nigerian relations. As far back in June 2009, Dmitry Medvedev as the president visited Nigeria for the first time, held talks on possible nuclear energy, oil exploration and military cooperation.
According to Russia’s Rosatom, the protocol on nuclear offered the possibility of bilateral cooperation for the development of nuclear infrastructure and the joint exploration and exploitation of uranium deposits. The aim, two nuclear plants estimated to cost $20 billion, the bulk of it by Russia, is to boost Nigeria’s electricity supply.
Russia’s second-largest oil company, and privately controlled Lukoil, has gone forth and back these several years with plans to expand its operations in Nigeria, and in a number of West African countries.
Nigeria is an economic powerhouse in the West African region. As it is known, Nigeria is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and it boasts the largest population. Russia and Nigeria have some sort of economic relations, but these are not consistent with the long-standing cordial relations between both countries.
In addition, Nigeria is a vast market with huge potentials for prospective foreign investors and so is Russia. Regrettably, investors from both sides appear to know little or nothing about these opportunities. This is, usually attributed to the apparent inadequate knowledge of the many investment opportunities in both countries.
Statistics are extremely hard to obtain. By the end of 2018, Russia’s trade with Nigeria was almost US$600 million, still seen as far below the full potential of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
Stunningly, talking about bilateral economic footprints, both Russians and Nigerians are unprepared to give needed useful information about Russia’s investment in Nigeria. Seen as a two-way street, Nigeria’s presence in Russia is only the diplomatic representative office.
New windows, in practice, are still opening especially with the start of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the most ambitious integration initiative embedded in the Agenda 2063 of the African Union. It stresses industrial hubs, localizing manufacturing and marketing goods and services throughout Africa.
Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, established and inaugurated in late September 2021, now has as its primary task to raise bilateral economic relations between the two countries. It will help implement some of the significant issues that were discussed during the historic first Russia-Africa summit held in October 2019 in Sochi, Russia.
President, Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Obiora Okonkwo told the visiting Russian delegation headed by Ambassador Oleg Ozerov, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Head of the Secretariat of Russia-Africa Partnership Forum (RAPF), that establishment of the NRCCI was the first step towards resuscitating and strengthening existing relations between Nigeria and Russia.
He said the inauguration of the chamber shows the beginning of a new journey that will enable “Nigeria explore business relations with the Russian Federation, and will promote economic growth, technology transfer, development and foster better understanding between both countries.”
Reports indicated that the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NRCCI) was created and incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990, and has established beneficial relationships and contacts with numerous economic development organizations in the Russian Federation.
The principal objectives of NRCCI are to promote commerce, industry, trade and ancillary services; foster, advance and protect commercial, industrial, trade and professional enterprises.
“We are therefore seeking to establish an industrial development mechanism built on the principle of mutually beneficial relationships with their own business groups. The strategy is to establish and sustain business contacts with the existing numerous economic development organizations in Russia and Nigeria,” explained Okonkwo.
The Russian business delegation included Andrei Albeshchenko from the Association of Economic Cooperation with African States; Andrei Vladimirov, State Atomic Energy Corporation Overseas; Stepan Belanovich, Uralchem United Chemical Company JSC; Maksim Poltoradnev, Uralchem United Chemical Company JSC and other Russian business executives.
The business visit to Abuja was organized by AECAS with support from the Russian Foreign Ministry, assistance from the Russian Embassy in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Ozerov and his delegation paid a courtesy call on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.
According to reports, Vice President Osinbajo has expressed keen interest in developing bilateral cooperation and the need to increase the presence of Russian companies in Nigeria. Vice President Osinbajo stressed the fact that the formal inauguration of a Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NRCCI) will consolidate efforts to deepen the long-lasting relationship and invigorate business opportunities between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Russian Federation.
“We are interested in developing relations with Nigeria. It is one of the largest and most promising economies where we see a lot of opportunities. We were happy to hear that the Vice President supports the development of bilateral economic relations.
“Russia has a lot to offer, from new technologies to fertilizers, agriculture, energy and infrastructure projects. We must intensify cooperation to achieve tangible results prior to the second Russia-Africa summit,” Ozerov, Head of the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, told journalists during the press conference following the meeting.
Within the framework of the joint declaration adopted at the first Russia-Africa Summit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation established the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum. The Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum also moved to create AECAS.
Trump Hopes to Rival Twitter, Facebook With TRUTH Social
By Adedapo Adesanya
Former President of the United States, Mr Donald Trump, has announced plans to launch his own social media platform, TRUTH Social.
This was disclosed in a press release on Wednesday, which stressed that the app, to be available for pre-order on Apple’s App Store, will open to invitees in November and to the public in the first quarter of 2022.
TRUTH Social will be launched by Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), a recently created company that’s aiming to go public via a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company.
Speaking in the statement, Mr Trump said, “I created TRUTH Social and TMTG to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech.”
Mr Trump’s announcement comes after months of speculation about his plans to create his own media operation following his controversial opinions that have drawn anger from different quarters.
The former US President has come under scrutiny after every major social media platform – including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – banned or suspended him for violating their policies.
In July, Trump sued Facebook, Twitter and Google, along with their chief executives, seeking the restoration of his accounts and punitive damages.
“We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favourite American President has been silenced,” Mr Trump said.
The social media platform is the first of the three stages in the company’s plans, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, and an entry to the cloud-computing space, according to the release.
Mr Trump, who was impeached by the US House of Representatives for his role in egging on rioters on January 6, but later acquitted of the charges in the then Republican-controlled US Senate, has been vocal about his desire to launch his own media platform following his presidency.
Russia Strengthens Political, Economic Ties With Guinea-Bissau
By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Guinea-Bissau Suzi Carla Barbosa have signed a memorandum on political consultations. This aims at strengthening political dialogue and promoting consistency in good cooperation at the international arena.
Russia expects trade and economic ties with Guinea-Bissau will continue developing; they must correspond to the high level of the political dialogue between the countries, Minister Lavrov said in his opening remarks with his counterpart from Guinea-Bissau Suzi Carla Barbosa.
“Probably, the next natural step will be to build up our trade-economic, investment cooperation in order to bring it to the level of our sound, confident political dialogue,” the Russian Minister added.
Speculation aside, the face-to-face diplomatic talks focus on effective ways for developing tangible cooperation in the most diverse areas in Guinea-Bissau. The meeting agreed to take a number of practical steps, including reciprocal visits by entrepreneurs both ways.
“We talked about more efficient ways of developing our trade and economic cooperation. We agreed to undertake a range of specific steps, including the trips of businessmen from Guinea-Bissau to Russia and then from Russia to Guinea-Bissau,” Lavrov said.
Last year, Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau Nuno Gomes Nabiam met with representatives of the Russian business community. The areas of interest mentioned in this respect included exploration of natural resources, construction of infrastructure facilities, as well as the development of agriculture and fisheries.
Guineans are keen on deepening bilateral cooperation in fishing. The five Russian fishing trawlers have recently resumed their operations in the exclusive economic zone of Guinea-Bissau.
As explained at the media conference, the topics discussed for cooperation included such spheres as natural resources tapping, infrastructure development, agriculture and fisheries
In terms of education, over 5,000 people have already entered civilian professions, and more than 3,000 people have acquired military specialities, which is important for Guinea-Bissau. In addition, a military and technical intergovernmental cooperation agreement is about to enter in force. According to reports, Russia would continue to pursue military cooperation with the country.
Both ministers reviewed the situation in Mali, the Republic of Guinea and some other African areas, with an emphasis on West Africa and the Sahara-Sahel region.
Lavrov and Carla Barbosa discussed preparations for the second Russia-Africa summit planned for 2022. With high hopes that the collective attendance will include President of Guinea-Bissau Umaro Sissoco Embalo.
Guinea-Bissau, like many African states, has had political problems. In April 2020, the regional group of fifteen West African countries often referred to as ECOWAS, after months of election dispute finally recognized the victory of Umaro Sissoco Embaló of Guinea-Bissau.
Perspectives for future development are immense in the country. The marine resources and other water bodies are an integral part of the livelihood. Steps to increase agricultural production are necessary. The economy largely depends on agriculture: fish, cashew nuts and peanuts are its major exports. Its population is estimated at 1.9 million, and more than two-thirds live below the poverty line.
Sharing borders with Guinea (to the southeast), Gambia and Senegal (to the north), Guinea-Bissau attained its independence in September 1973. Guinea-Bissau follows a nonaligned foreign policy and seeks friendly and cooperative relations with a wide variety of states and organizations. Besides, Eсonomic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Guinea-Bissau is a member of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations.
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.
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