By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
Russia has been accused of not doing enough for the growth of Africa, especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
It was observed that Russia-African diplomacy had been marked by several bilateral agreements that are yet to be implemented.
According to official documents, 92 agreements worth a total of $12.5 billion were signed during the symbolic African leaders’ gathering in late October 2019, and Russia has done little to implement them since then.
The joint declaration is a comprehensive document that outlines the key objectives and tasks required to elevate the entire relationship to a new qualitative level.
Long before the summit, there were mountains of promises and pledges that were never fulfilled. Several meetings of various bilateral intergovernmental commissions have taken place in both Moscow and Africa.
According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over 170 Russian companies and organizations submitted 280 proposals relating to various projects and businesses in Africa.
As Russia prepares for the next summit, which will be held in St. Petersburg in July 2023, African leaders have indicated their willingness to actively participate, at the very least, to listen to rousing speeches, sign more new agreements, and finally pose for group photos.
However, many experts and top African diplomats question the substance of discussing additional opportunities and effective efforts to build and strengthen Russia-African relations.
The revival of Russia-Africa relations must address existing challenges while also taking a results-oriented approach to pressing African issues. Taking into account the views and opinions expressed by African politicians, businesspeople, experts, and diplomats about the situation in Africa is one of them.
In practice, while Russia reaffirms its desire to return to Africa, it has yet to demonstrate a visible long-term commitment to collaborating with appropriate institutions to advance sustainable development across the continent.
Professor Abdullahi Shehu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Russian Federation with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Belarus, delivered a lecture on “Africa-Russia Relations: Past, Present, and Future” to young diplomats and students of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Federation in mid-October.
Ambassador Shehu talked a lot about African history. He focused on the effects of the times before, during, and after contact with European powers and the neo-colonization of African states that happened after that.
He also discussed Africa’s relations with the Soviet Union, which began in large part after the independence of several African states in the 1960s. He emphasized the contributions to Africa’s decolonization struggle, as well as the numerous areas of cooperation that have existed between Africa and Russia over the years.
Professor Shehu emphasized the existence of several bilateral agreements with African countries, saying between 2015 and 2019, Russia and African countries signed a total of 20 bilateral military cooperation agreements. Many Russian companies, including Lukoil, Gasprom, Rosatom, and Restec, are in Nigeria, Egypt, Angola, Algeria, and Ethiopia’s energy and power industries.
But on the other hand, Russia has performed dismally in Africa’s energy sector and many other important economic spheres over the years.
“Unfortunately, due to Rosneft’s lack of interest in doing business in Africa, these agreements have not materialized. Furthermore, Russia’s Rosatom has also signed nuclear energy agreements with 18 African countries, including Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, to meet those countries’ power needs but has not been successful in building nuclear plants in Africa.
“Despite the tidal wave of new Africa-Russian relations, there are still obstacles, as well as new economic conditions and geopolitical realities. Acceptance of these new realities is critical in order to properly manage Africa’s expectations from Russia, at least in the short term,” the envoy said.
On the indiscriminate export of arms and military equipment, Ambassador Shehu stated, “However, Russia’s increasing export of arms to the African continent may exacerbate insecurity and instability, as well as increase the level of crime and criminal proclivity. So, it is in Russia’s strategic interest to be very picky about which African countries it sells weapons to. The deployment of private Russian mercenary groups and other private military groups in African countries is of particular concern and strategic importance to Africa.”
Support for Africa’s democratic institutions and agencies will lead to a more stable Africa, which is in Russia’s overall long-term interest and positive image rather than immediate short-term economic and financial gain, he said in his lecture, adding that Russia contributes approximately 35% of global arms export to the African region.
Given the difficulties that most African countries face in providing adequate power and energy, the number of Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) signed by Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear power company, with at least 14 African countries, is encouraging. What will be more significant, however, is the extent to which the MOUs are implemented because, by definition, the construction and operation of nuclear plants are ventures with the potential for deepening long-term relationships, according to Nigeria’s top diplomat.
Brigadier General Nicholas Mike Sango, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the Russian Federation, told me in an interview just before his final departure from Moscow that several issues could strengthen the relationship. Economic cooperation is an important direction. African diplomats have consistently persuaded Russian companies to use the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as an opportunity for Russian companies to establish footprints on the continent. This viewpoint has not found favour with them, and it is hoped that it will work in the future.
Despite the government’s lack of pronounced incentives for businesses to set their sights on Africa, Russian businesses generally regard Africa as too risky for investment. He stated that Russia must establish a presence on the continent by exporting its competitive advantages in engineering and technological advancement in order to bridge the gap that is impeding Africa’s industrialization and development.
“Worse, there are too many initiatives by too many quasi-state institutions promoting economic cooperation with Africa, saying the same things in different ways but doing nothing tangible,” he explained during the lengthy pre-departure interview. From July 2015 to August 2022, he represented the Republic of Zimbabwe in the Russian Federation. He previously served as a military adviser in Zimbabwe’s Permanent Mission to the UN and as an international instructor in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Many former ambassadors have made several similar criticisms. According to former South African Ambassador Mandisi Mpahlwa, Sub-Saharan Africa has understandably been low on post-Soviet Russia’s priority list, given that Russia is not as reliant on Africa’s natural resources as other major economies. The reason for this was that Soviet-African relations, based on the fight to push back the borders of colonialism, did not always translate into trade, investment, and economic ties that would have continued seamlessly with post-Soviet Russia.
“Russia’s goal of elevating its bilateral relationship with Africa cannot be realized without close collaboration with the private sector. Africa and Russia are politically close but geographically separated, and people-to-people ties remain underdeveloped. This translates into a lack of understanding on both sides of what the other has to offer. In both countries, there may be a fear of the unknown, “Mpahlawa stated in an interview after completing his ambassadorial duties in Russia.
Professor Gerrit Olivier from the Department of Political Science, the University of Pretoria in South Africa, noted that there had been unprecedented frequent official working visits to and from, but with little visible impact. Russian by its global status, ought to be active in Africa as Western Europe, the European Union, the United States and China are, it is all but playing a negligible role, and at present, its diplomacy is dominated by a plethora of agreements signed – many of which the outcomes remain hardly discernible in African countries.
Several agreements signed are impressive, but it remains how these will be implemented in practice. That, however, obstacles to the broadening of Russian-Africa relations should be addressed. Be that as it may, the Kremlin has revived its interest in the African continent, and it will be realistic to expect that the spade work it is putting in now will at some stage show more tangible results, he said with optimism.
“Russian influence in Africa, despite efforts towards resuscitation, remains marginal. While prioritizing Africa, Russia has to do more with a result-oriented investment like other players in the continent. The official working visits are mainly moves and symbolic, and have little long-term concrete results,” Professor Olivier, who served as South African Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 1991 to 1996, wrote in an email comment from Pretoria, South Africa.
Russia’s African policy is riddled with flaws. According to reports, more than 90 agreements were signed at the conclusion of the first Russia-Africa summit. Thousands of bilateral agreements are still in the works, and century-old promises and pledges to support sustainable development with African countries are authoritatively renewed. Russia is flashing its geopolitical headlights in all directions on Africa, like a polar deer waking up from its deep slumber.
According to Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, several top-level bilateral meetings, memorandums of understanding, and bilateral agreements have occurred in recent years. In November 2021, a policy document titled the ‘Situation Analytical Report’ presented at the TASS News Agency’s headquarters was harshly critical of Russia’s current African policy.
That policy document was prepared by 25 Russian experts headed by Professor Sergey Karaganov, Honorary Chairman of the Council on Defense and Foreign Policy. While the number of high-level meetings has increased, the proportion of substantive issues and concrete outcomes on the agenda has remained small. It explicitly highlights the inconsistency of approaches in dealing with many critical development issues in Africa. Russia, on the other hand, lacks public outreach policies for Africa. Aside from the lack of a public strategy for the continent, there is a lack of coordination among the various state and non-state institutions that work with Africa.
Associate Professor Ksenia Tabarintseva-Romanova of Ural Federal University’s Department of International Relations recognizes significant existing challenges and possibly difficult conditions in Africa-Russia economic cooperation. The establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is the most important modern tool for the economic development of Africa. This is unique in terms of exploring and becoming acquainted with the opportunities for business collaboration it provides.
She maintains, however, that successful implementation necessitates a sufficiently high level of economic development in the participating countries, logistical accessibility, and developed industry with the potential to introduce new technologies. This means that in order for the African Continental Free Trade Area to be effective, it must enlist the provision of long-term investment flows from outside. These funds should be used to build industrial plants and transportation corridors.
Tabarintseva-Romanova previously stated in an interview discussion that Russia already has extensive experience with the African continent, making it possible to make investments as efficiently as possible for both the Russian Federation and African countries. Potential African investors and exporters may also look into business collaboration and partnerships in Russia.
However, Russia must find effective exit strategies, abandon loud diplomatic rhetoric, and take the first steps toward strengthening economic engagement with Africa. It must go beyond the traditional rhetoric of Soviet assistance to Africa. Professor Abdullahi Shehu’s mid-October lecture at the Russian Diplomacy Academy suggested that Russia consider the following.
Professor Shehu proposed that Russia invest directly in Africa’s extractive and manufacturing sectors as a viable alternative and long-term option. As evidenced by the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and Europe, Africa holds a promising future for the viability and profitability of Russian manufacturing companies interested in relocating to Africa to take advantage of cheap African labour.
The establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the world’s largest of its kind, provides Africa with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for intra-African trade, thereby empowering Africa’s own capacities and investments. Russia must broaden its view of the investment opportunities presented by this single continental market of 55 African countries with a combined population of over 1.3 billion people.
Professor Abdullahi Shehu also cited Joseph Siegle, the Director of Research for the African Centre for Strategic Studies, to back up his point that “Developing more mutually beneficial Africa relations necessitates changes in both substance and process. Such a shift would necessitate Russia establishing more traditional bilateral engagements with African institutions rather than individuals. These initiatives would prioritize trade, investment, technology transfer, and educational exchanges. Many Africans would welcome such Russian initiatives if they were transparently negotiated and implemented equitably.”
Despite setbacks in recent years, the search for effective project and business financing is still ongoing, according to official reports. “There is a lot of demanding work ahead,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a meeting of the Ministry’s Collegium. “Perhaps there is a need to pay attention to China’s experience, which provides its enterprises with state guarantees and subsidies, thus ensuring the ability of companies to work on a systematic and long-term basis.”
Previous meetings were a marketplace for fantastic ideas. Business leaders frequently discussed the lack of credit lines and guarantees as barriers, as well as a lack of knowledge of the business environment as a challenge. Lavrov stated in a message sent in mid-June that “In these difficult and critical times, Russia’s foreign policy has prioritized strategic partnership with Africa. Russia is encouraged by Africans’ willingness to expand economic cooperation.”
That is why Lavrov’s earlier suggestion, as early as 2019, of writing a chapter on China’s approach and methods in Africa is arguably important, particularly when discussing the issue of relationship-building in the context of the current global changes of the twenty-first century. Russia could follow China’s lead in financing various infrastructure and construction projects in Africa. Within the context of the emerging multipolar world and growing opposition to Western hegemony and neocolonialism, Russia must consider a broad-based approach to strengthening and sustaining impactful multifaceted relations with Africa.
In stark contrast to key global players such as the United States, China, the European Union, and many others, basic research findings show that Russia’s policies have little impact on African development paradigms. Russia’s policies have frequently ignored Africa’s long-term development concerns. Russia must adopt an action plan, a practical document that outlines concrete, substantive cooperation between summits. Finally, Russians must keep in mind that the African Union Agenda 2063 is Africa’s road map.
Russia-Africa Summit: Sergey Lavrov Undertakes Assessment Tour
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
Behind lofty summit declarations, several bilateral agreements and thousands of decade-old undelivered pledges, Russia has been stacked due to the “special military operations” it began in late February in Ukraine. It has achieved little these few years after the symbolic summit held in 2019. With preparations for the next African leaders’ summit, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov plans to undertake two African tours during the first quarter of 2023.
At the heat of the Russia-Ukraine crisis and within the context of the current geopolitical and economic changes, Lavrov made a snapshot trip to four African countries from July 24-28 this year. The four African countries on that travel agenda: are Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of Congo.
In January-February 2023, Lavrov will first focus on North Africa. Why is Maghreb a strategic region for Russia? It is true that despite the appearance of competition between Europe and the United States, between Russia and China, as well as the Gulf States, Russia has intensified its relations aims at raising its influence in the Maghreb.
Worth noting that Egypt already has significant strategic and economic ties with Russia. With the geographical location of Egypt, Lavrov’s frequent visits there have some tacit implications. Last July trip, for instance, concretely aimed at explaining the perspectives for Russia’s actions in neighbouring Ukraine to frame-shape its geo-strategic posture in the region and solicit support from the entire Arab world. It followed US President Joe Biden’s official visit to the Middle East. Biden visited Israel, the Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia.
Reports from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week indicated that Lavrov plans to undertake two “coordinated working visits” and the first trip will focus on the Arab-speaking North African region popularly referred to as Maghreb. For several decades, the Maghreb region has been a multifaceted conflict region, in fact, one of the most volatile geopolitical frontiers, which includes Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. This vast area inhabited by some 120 million people – 80 per cent of them in Algeria, Egypt and Morocco – is landlocked between the huge Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert.
Historically, Russia has had long-standing good political relations not only in the North but also with sub-Saharan Africa down to Southern Africa since Soviet times, providing tremendous support for liberation movements that culminated in decolonization and, ultimately, the rise of the economies in Africa. The continent is rife with rivalry and competition, attracting foreign players, especially at this time of emerging new global order.
According to official reports, Russia is interested in expanding multifaceted cooperation and making feverish attempts for a collaborative mechanism to upgrade its relations. It seeks to work closely in developing a new architecture necessary for participating in development projects, and promote infrastructure, trade and other viable economic ties. It held the first Russia-Africa summit three years ago, signed many bilateral agreements and issued an impressive joint declaration as a roadmap for future directions.
On the agenda for the second Russia-Africa summit scheduled to be held in St. Petersburg, there are matters relating to building a new global architecture in the context of strengthening multi-polarity and international security, food and energy security, healthcare and humanitarian cooperation, education, science and culture.
With rafts of sanctions imposed on Russia, it becomes expedient for both Russia and Africa to find alternative ways of collaboration (between Russia and Africa) that do not rely on Western currencies or sanctions policy. Of course, illegal sanctions imposed on Russia continue to have a negative impact on foreign economic relations, necessitating an urgent reconfiguration of strategies for pushing further cooperation.
The reports always note that Africa is one of the most important and fastest-growing regions for Russian producers. Moscow understands the significance of engaging and achieving sustainable development there. For example, Russia faces the challenge of promoting the creation of a reliable infrastructure for the production and transportation of African energy products and the development of domestic markets. It faces the challenge of setting its economic influence in the continent admirably.
However, in November 2021, a policy document titled the ‘Situation Analytical Report’ presented at the premises of TASS News Agency was very critical of Russia’s current policy towards Africa. While the number of high-level meetings has increased, the share of substantive issues on the agenda remains small. There are few definitive results from such meetings, according to that authoritative report researched and put together by 25 Russian policy experts headed by Professor Sergey Karaganov, Chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.
The report pointed to the lack of coordination among various state and para-state institutions working with Africa. For the past three decades, Russia has played very little role in Africa’s infrastructure, agriculture and industry. Many bilateral agreements at the top and high political levels have still not been implemented. A lot more important issues have received little attention since the first African leaders’ summit was held in Sochi.
Our monitoring shows that the Russian business community hardly pays attention to the significance to, and makes little effort to leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which provides a unique and valuable platform for businesses to access an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people.
Nevertheless, Russia brings little to the continent, especially in the economic sectors that badly need investment. An undeniable fact is that many external players have also had long-term relations and continue bolstering political, economic and social ties in the continent.
Of course, Russia aims at restoring and regaining part of its Soviet-era influence but has problems with planning and tackling its set tasks and lack of confidence in fulfilling its policy targets. The most important aspect is how to make strategic efforts more practical, more consistent and more effective with African countries. Without these fundamental factors, it would therefore be an illusionary dream considering a multifaceted partnership with Africa.
Russia’s Cultural Diplomacy in Multipolar World: Perspectives and Challenges for Africa
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
After careful research to find the meaning and implications of the term “multipolar world” often used these days, the free dictionary and englopedia offer insights as a system of world order in which the majority of leading global powers coordinate and commonly agree on economic, political and cultural influence and acceptable directions.
Both dictionaries further explain that countries have multipolar approaches to foreign policy. Participating countries necessarily conceive multiple centres of power or influence in the world and have a multipolar approach to foreign policy. A multipolar world could mean various differences in thoughts, views and ideas regarding anything in particular that different people desire to do across the world.
It appears from several reports that China and Russia intend to lead the new world order. Speeches from both sides are extremely critical of “based rules and regulations” given by the United States and Europe. The United States’ global dictatorship might end so that the unipolar would then become a multi-polar world, in which democracy could actually thrive.
In practical terms and in order to lead a multipolar system requires an outward, broad and integrative approach. While China, to a large extent, has portrayed this practical approach which is readily seen around the world, Russia’s method is full of slogans and highly limited. With the emerging new global order, China appears more open and integrative than Russia. Despite the fact that it madly advocates for creating and ultimate establishment of this multipolar world, Russia exits significantly from the global stage, thus isolating itself and further contributing towards its own “cancel culture” instead of the opposite.
Whether people like it or not, the United States will conveniently operate within the emerging multipolar system. It has the instruments to operate within the framework of multilateralism and an integrative multicultural environment. The United States is and remains an “indispensable” power. Russia and a few of its allies in this evolutionary process, without adopting cautious steps and strategic approach, will definitely remain “dispensable” in the end.
In order to deepen our understanding of the emerging multipolar world, it is useful to make comparisons. The United States’ new strategy acknowledges that Africa will shape the future – not just the future of the African people but of the world. And as such deals with civil society, women and the youth, which it refers to as the megaphone of governance. These have an influence on policies and processes engaging policy-makers.
It further works in various directions closely with the African Union, and one more new direction is the African diaspora. The United States has the largest African diaspora with social inroads and business inter-linkages and a hugely significant impact on developments inside Africa. In contrast, Russia has grossly ignored the African diaspora and even those African professional specialists it has indeed trained from Soviet times to and currently. In the emerging new multipolar world, to overlook these would be a sad mistake from a policy perspective.
Russians seriously brush aside the relevance and the role of culture, for that matter, soft power in foreign policy while advocating for this emerging new order. Examining, in broad terms, all aspects of culture that basically includes continuing the struggle for self-determination, for creating the grounded opportunity to live in peace and preserving one’s valuable traditions. Language, of course, plays its unifying role.
Some contradictions and different interpretations might exist. On the other hand, there are divergent views and different perceptions relating to the current geopolitical changes, but frankly speaking, the study of foreign languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and the emerging interest in the Chinese and Russian languages, has been a long part of people’s lives, especially those who hope to move across borders and dream to have smooth interactions with other nationals from different countries around the world.
For the past three decades since the collapse of the Soviet era, Russian language studies have been low, for example, among the African population, primarily due to a lack of overwhelming interest and adequate motivation, and a lack of consistent interactive cultural activities by Russian authorities, experts at the Africa Studies Institute frequently say, and warmheartedly admit that things have slow with Russia’s return to Africa.
Most Africans prefer to study foreign languages to ensure smooth participation in interstate activities such as trade and in order to maintain relationships with people abroad. Foreign countries, for example, Britain, the United States, European countries and now China, are their traditional favourites. There are always interactive programmes and cultural activities throughout the year operated by foreign missions and NGOs.
Interpreted from different perspectives, Russia has not been a major economic giant in Africa compared to Western and European countries and China. Due to this historical truth, Africans have little interest in studying the Russian language and its culture. The Russian language itself does not sound attractive in terms of its economic opportunity, and therefore, Africans prefer to study languages that readily offer opportunities. China is making huge contributions to the continent, and this has made Africans see the need to understand the language in order to have better interaction with them.
The obvious worst-case scenario is that the Russian government has not created the necessary conditions and reasons to study the language simply because it has little influence in the continent. Besides that, the trade and commercial links between Russia and Africa are quite negligible, so there is no desperate demand for the Russian language for businessmen. Admittedly, Russia is not a welcoming holiday destination for African elites and the middle class, which is twice the total population of Russia and constitutes 40% of the 1.3 billion population of Africa. Travel and tourism is an increasingly huge business, and the unique geographical landscapes and changing attractiveness of Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi – are unknown to the African elite and the growing middle class.
With the current evolving political and cultural processes, the West and Europe will still have a strong classical grip on Africa, influencing everything first from culture and tourism and moving onward to politics and economics. Perhaps, Russia has to play the correct strategic openness and welcome African travellers, tourists and visitors. Closing doors in these critical times might negatively distract Africa’s support for Russia.
The worrying tendency is that Rossotrudnichestvo, an agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, pays little attention to educational and cultural questions in Africa, compared to its assertive counterparts – USAID, Alliance Française de France, The Goethe Institute, British Council, Instituto Cervantes that operate throughout the world.
Another Russian organization – Russkiy Mir Foundation, which is directly responsible for promoting the Russian language and culture abroad, does extremely little in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, cultural officers work in all 38 Russian embassies in Africa.
Russia appears quite removed from Africa’s development issues, it is only mentioned in limited areas like weapons and military equipment supplies to French-speaking West Africa. Nowadays, China is being viewed as a strong strategic partner in Africa, given its (China’s) strong footprints in diverse economic sectors. China has more than 20 Confucius Centers and a party school in Africa. Western and European, and China support civil society, youth programmes and women’s issues – these are completely not on Russia’s radar.
Russia allegedly allows its own ‘cancel culture’ and significantly not by the United States and its European allies. In practical terms, creating a multipolar system deals largely with cultural and social orientation, it deals with public perceptions through openness and friendliness. At this new historical reawakening stage, Russia has reviewed itself and tried to focus on building relations, both with substance, trustful and refined approach and strategically engaging with civil society, youth organizations and non-state institutions in Africa.
By and large, Russia has to intensify its people-to-people connections, soft power and cultural diplomacy with Africa. There is a huge cultural gap in new thinking, working with young professionals and associations to promote people-to-people diplomacy through business links, cultural exchanges and competitions. As Russia charts loudly for the multipolar system, this has to reflect in its current foreign policy and approach, especially towards the developing world, in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Late October, during the final plenary session of the 19th meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, the focus was on matters related to the changing geopolitics and civilisation diversity, the new world order and its future developments. Under the theme, A Post-Hegemonic World: Justice and Security for Everyone, the four-day-long interactive meeting brought academic experts and researchers, politicians, diplomats and economists from Russia and 40 foreign countries.
President Vladimir Putin discussed, at considerable length, so many controversial questions. According to him, classic liberal ideology itself today has changed beyond recognition. They predicted the end of the United States’ global dominance but fell short in proposing an appropriate Russian template – the principles and mechanisms – for realizing the lofty idea and approach to establishing a multipolar world.
Putin did not say anything about Russia becoming a power but awarded that position to China. Giants like China, India and Indonesia with large populations are showing economic growth; in Africa, large countries – some of them with a population of 200 million – are emerging and making progress, as well as countries in Latin America.
According to him, Russia still has friends around the world. He mentioned that in Central America and Africa, Russian flags are flying everywhere. “There are flags in European countries and in the United States too; we have many supporters there. By the way, a large proportion of the US population adheres to traditional values, and they are with us, we know this,” he added in his assertive conversation at the Valdai gathering.
Putin, along the line, argued that the support for multipolar order largely exists in the global south. Russia is not the enemy and has never had any evil intentions as regards the European countries and the United States. He appreciated Africa’s struggle for independence and against colonialism. These absolutely unique relations were forged during the years when the Soviet Union and Russia supported African countries in their fight for freedom.
In this context and in relation to Africa, Natalia Zaiser, Founder of the African Business Initiative Union, apparently talked about the new historical stage need to establish new or different institutions of international partnership.
Her series of questions to Putin: “Mr President, what is your vision of a new international partnership institution? Which basis of parities is Russia ready to offer at the international level? Which mechanisms, tools and personalities are needed to acquire new allies, partners and friends, not at a declarative level but at the level of unquestionable responsibility in terms of agreements? Do you think we should also change or build up other approaches within the future international partnership?”
Putin’s answer was: “We must, and we can focus on cooperation, primarily, with countries which have sovereignty in taking fundamental decisions. This is my first point. My second point is that we need to reach a consensus on each of these decisions. Third, we need to secure a balance of interests. Part of which institutions can we do this? Of course, these are primarily universal international organizations, and number one is with the United Nations.”
EU, IFC Launch €25m Fund to Rebuild Ukraine
By Adedapo Adesanya
A new agreement between the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Ukraine’s Energy Efficiency Fund will channel up to €25 million in EU funds to help homeowners’ associations restore war-damaged residential buildings, the organisations announced on Monday.
The effort will support Ukrainian families amid the ongoing war and boost the resilience of Ukraine’s residential sector. Since February 24, the conflict in Ukraine has substantially damaged or destroyed the homes of 2.4 million Ukrainians, according to the Ministry for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine.
The Kyiv School of Economics estimates that the total number of the affected housing stock in Ukraine is up to 136,000 buildings or 40 per cent of the total number of residential buildings, including almost 16,000 multi-apartment buildings. As it stands, there is not enough public and private financing to rebuild the sector.
IFC will support the Energy Efficiency Fund’s Restoration Program by channelling the EU grants to homeowners’ associations across Ukraine, covering the costs of restoring multifamily buildings that did not suffer structural damage.
The programme will cover the replacement of windows, doors, roofs, and walls, among other elements, and IFC will also help the Fund with a pipeline of reconstruction projects as well as support beneficiaries with the application process.
A €5 million pilot phase is being rolled out in Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Sumy, and Chernihiv, larger cities in northern and central Ukraine that have come under increased attacks over the last two months.
Speaking on this, Mr Yehor Farenyuk, director of the state-owned Energy Efficiency Fund, said, “This programme launched by the Energy Efficiency Fund provides vital support to homeowners’ associations to help them restore buildings damaged by Russia’s military aggression.
“This is substantial support for many war-affected Ukrainians since the program will cover 100 per cent of the cost of all construction materials and work. We are very grateful to our partners — the EU and IFC — for their engagement and support, and we hope to continue our fruitful cooperation in this area.
“Rebuilding efforts in war-torn Ukraine cannot and should not be stalled,” said Ms Rana Karadsheh, IFC’s Regional Director for Europe. “We are grateful to the EU for their ongoing assistance, enabling us to provide vital support to Ukraine during these challenging times. We are committed to supporting Ukrainians and their efforts to restore residential and other economic sectors devastated by the war.
“The EU stands with Ukraine as it fights off Russia’s aggression and supports its people. We are happy to join forces with our trusted partners Ukraine’s Energy Efficiency Fund and IFC to help rebuild Ukrainian’s homes that were destroyed by Russia,” said Ms Katarína Mathernová, Deputy Director General of the Directorate General for Neighbourhood & Enlargement Negotiations and Head of the Support Group for Ukraine at the European Commission.”
Since October 2019, the original Ukraine Energy Efficiency Fund Program, led by IFC in partnership with the EU, has channelled grants worth nearly €15 million into energy-efficient renovations of 229 residential buildings in Ukraine, of which 109 are fully completed, with the remaining 120 projects continuing to implement the energy efficiency modernizations amid the war.
As part of IFC’s broader response to the war in Ukraine, in October, IFC launched another €25 million EU-supported programme to help municipalities to renovate municipally owned buildings to host internally displaced people.
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