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Russia’s Diplomacy of Promises: The Case of Ghana



Ghana's Independence Square

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

“Russia sets aside $1 billion to boost trade ties with Ghana” – simply made the media headline, but has serious implications for Russia’s diplomacy.

The published article described the bilateral relations as “sustainable partnership” between Russia and the Republic of Ghana. That was far back in January 2018 and given wide publicity to show Russia’s economic presence in Africa. Taking into cognizance the participating dignitaries including the Russian Ambassador Dmitry Suslov inside the Russian diplomatic premises, is most probably reflected in official documents of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

 The Russian Federation set aside $1 billion to assist Russian companies wanting to invest in Ghana’s economy, in a move aimed at reinvigorating the sixty-year-old diplomatic relations that exist between the two countries and which were strongest in the Nkrumah era, archive research shows.

In commemorating the 60 years of established diplomatic relations with Ghana, and at that reception, Chairman of the Ghana Russian Business Development Council, Dr Lawrence Awuku-Boateng, explained that Ghanaian business people wanting do business with Russia would be assisted. The money would be disbursed through the Russian Export Centre.

“I am glad to announce that the Russian government has decided to assist all Russian companies that would like to work in Ghana, and Ghanaian companies who would like to do business with the Russians should contact the Embassy or Council for assistance,” Awuku-Boateng told the gathering.

Ambassador Suslov took his turn and said his country was committed to building “sustainable partnerships” with Ghana. “I can see Ghana now attracts more Russian businesses due to its stable democracy, sustainable macroeconomic performance and advanced business infrastructure. The importance of Ghana to Russia as an anchor partner country within the West Africa region is in a way being recognised and affirmed by the continuous presence of Russian delegations in the country,” he said.

Similarly, different Russian companies have been rushing for investment. With its stated purpose to create developing economic cooperation, Russian Railway Company, Geo Services, said it was ready to invest over $12.5 billion in the redevelopment of Ghana’s Railway network, a project the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo government has shown keen interest in realizing to boost the transport network (railway infrastructure) and ultimately the economy.

Geo-Services CEO, Sergey Kamnev, headed a delegation to attend the market-sounding event organized by the Ministries of Railways Development and Transport, on the development of the Eastern Railway Line and the Boankra Inland Port projects. The government was seeking to enter into a Public, Private Partnership arrangement for the two specific projects, for which an estimated US$2.4billion was required.

“With our own unofficial pre-feasibility conducted, we are assuring you that we will give Ghana the best. Considering our record, even in the area of fatalities within the industry, I can say that, with over 100years experience in railway in the world, we have recorded, I am sure, the least of fatalities,” Sergey Kamnev said at the event in Accra, Ghana.

“Having said that, if we are given the right to build the rail lines in Ghana, we are going to use Ghanaians to manufacture everything in Ghana, from executive wagons to bolt and knots. This is going to help us openly, at least, 20 factories in the country,” he added.

Eastern Railway Line was planned to complete by 2020. The Minister of Railway Development, Joe Ghartey, informed that the government set 2020 as the deadline for the completion of the Eastern Railway line project. The project will accommodate speed trains which have a speed of over 500 km per hour, making the journey faster and easier.

“The government is ready and feasibility is almost complete; that is why we are having this market-sounding event which is a meeting with investors to share ideas on how to build a better railway network in Ghana. I have directed that the project is completed by 2020, using speed trains. Ghana deserves the best and we, as a government, are willing to sign up for the best in this project for Ghana,” Minister Joe Ghartey stated.

The market sounding conference was attended by investors interested in partnering government in the rehabilitation and expansion of the country’s rail network from the south to Paga in the Upper East Region.

Ghana’s rail network that is currently operational, which is approximately 947 kilometres, is faced with an obsolete network and poor track infrastructure, resulting in the closure of greater part of the Western and Eastern lines and the entire Central line, leading to a high incidence of derailments that lead to loss of operational hours and damage to rolling stock.

The revamping of the railways sector was expected to happen hand-in-hand with the construction of the Boankra Inland Port, strategically located near Kumasi, to ease the movement of goods to the northern parts of the country and neighbouring landlocked countries.

Perhaps the most important way forward beside the official interaction, and in order to enhance further relations between the two countries, the Russian Federation has endorsed creating the Ghana-Russian Business Development Council to help in linking up business, education and culture.

Early October 2021, within the framework of the official visit to Ghana, the Head of the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, Ambassador-at-Large Oleg Ozerov, participated in discussions between the Association of Economic Cooperation with African States (AECAS) and the Ghana-Russia Business Development Council. According to reports, the ceremony was also attended by the current Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Ghana, Sergei Berdnikov.

The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding which stipulates developing and strengthening bilateral cooperation. The focus is to promote Russian companies’ products and services on the African market, to share expertise and exchange information in order to create favourable conditions for the development of Russia-Ghana relations.

On the other hand, critics say Russian officials consider it inexpedient to deal with well-established agencies and organizations such as the Ghana Export Promotion Council, Ghana Export Authority, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry et cetera. These business entities make the entire process of trading quite easy and convenient for the business parties involved by liaising with other agencies to simplify documentation and import/export procedures as well as customs and freight carriers in the country.

Another important issue critics singled out in their discussions was the importance of the Russia-Ghana Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation (PJCC) created several years ago for ensuring and strengthening bilateral relations in the political, economic, trade, technical and cultural spheres between the two countries. At least, Russia and Ghana are looking forward to expanding trade and investment exchanges using the mechanism of the Intergovernmental Commission on trade-economic and scientific-technical cooperation.

During the session of the Russia-Ghana Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation (PJCC) held in Saint Petersburg in May, the both Foreign Affairs Ministers of Russia and Ghana agreed to speed up work on agreements and memoranda that will strengthen the legal framework of cooperation. Further agreed to encourage business circles, chambers of commerce and industry of the two countries to continue and intensify direct contacts and frequent interactions.

Our monitoring and interviews show that not everybody is highly-satisfied with the current approach toward Africa. In an interview conducted by this author, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration explains explicitly that “Russia and Ghana have excellent diplomatic relations, which have been developed over the years, precisely more than 30 years. Russian Federation started in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet era. Although, for a relationship lasting this long, one would have expected it to move past where it is now. In short, there is still room for improvement.”

Despite the policy challenges and shortcomings, Ghana is still open to all the support that it could get from its external friends and development partners in the nation-building drive, particularly in the nationwide industrialization programme of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration. Ghana could benefit a lot from the rich experiences of Russia, which has advanced knowledge, in the area of industrialization, she underscored in the interview discussion.

An undeniable and acknowledgeable fact is that Russia plans to boost multifaceted relations with Africa. As pointed out in a policy report last November, Russia’s approach is practically marked by a high degree of inconsistency and lacks effective systematic coordination on several important issues with Africa. The report points to shortsightedness and little desire to face the rapidly changing political and economic realities in Africa.

According to that report, high-level meetings have increased but the share of substantive issues remains extremely minimal, and worse so far there were few definitive results from the unprecedented huge number of high-level official meetings. The report indicates clearly that Russia’s possibilities are overestimated both publicly and in closed negotiations. It further stresses the lack of “information hygiene” at all levels of public speaking among the main flaws of Russia’s policy on Africa.

Nevertheless, according to the policy experts’ assessment of the situation, Russia needs to shift steadily towards new paradigms – first to move away from the most often stereotypical narratives, and frequent criticisms of other key external players. And second to seriously begin implementing, especially in this crucial time of global geopolitical changes and emerging new order, some of its own decade-old pledges and promises, and take concrete steps in fulfilling those several bilateral agreements signed with individual African countries.

The report provides useful recommendations aim at closing the gap between mainstream policies, how to remove the policy pitfalls and turning a new page by adopting a well-refined approach toward Africa. The authoritative 150-page report was researched and prepared by 25 Russian policy experts headed by Professor Sergei Karaganov who is currently the Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy. The report titled – Situation Analytical Report – was publicly presented at the premises of TASS Information News Agency in November 2021.


Mozambique Readies for Developing Mphanda Nkuwa Hydroelectric Project



Mphanda Nkuwa Hydroelectric

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

Mozambique is ramping up efforts toward establishing a sustainable energy supply to drive its economy, especially the industrialization programme.

As it seeks reliable foreign partnerships, it has already shortlisted a few energy groups for the new $4.5 billion Mphanda Nkuwa hydroelectric dam on the Zambezi River, located in Tete province that is estimated to generate 2,070 megawatts for Mozambique. It will be 700 metres long and rise 86 metres above its foundations, with 13 floodgates.

The tender for the “Selection of the Strategic Partner or Investor for the Development of the Mphanda Nkuwa Hydroelectric Project” finally in December received the results of the market survey carried out in September involving the critical aspects of structuring the project, alignment with potential buyers and shareholder participation. The structure of the energy transmission line, the methodology for selecting the strategic partner, and the implementation schedule, among other relevant issues related to the project transaction.

According to the Malaysian newspaper, The Star, the process of selecting the seven potential investors was made at the end of an investor conference held in Maputo. It further wrote that two individual companies and five large consortiums previously visited the site to understand the area’s natural conditions and assess the fundamental data to prepare proposals from a technical, economic and financial point of view.

The newspaper estimated the infrastructure cost between $4.5 and $5 billion and have the capacity to produce 1,500 megawatts, making Mphanda Nkuwa the second-largest hydroelectric dam in the country, after Cahora Bassa Hydroelectric (HCB), which generates 2,070 megawatts. With the two infrastructures in fully operational energy production, Mozambique hopes to achieve the goal of universal access to energy and respond to the growing energy deficit that plagues southern Africa.

General Director of the Mphanda Nkuwa development office, Carlos Yum, envisaged that during the construction phase, more than 7,000 jobs would be created, and 50 per cent of the energy generated would be exported, contributing to the country’s economy and thus making a regional energy hub in Mozambique.

The Mphanda Nkuwa project will be a lower-cost power generation option which will position Mozambique as a regional energy hub and contribute to universal access, industrialization, job creation and technical training while generating tax and concession fee revenue. The project is fundamental for the energy transition and decarbonization of the southern region of Africa.

Carlos Yum has laid out the status of the Mphanda Nkuwa hydroelectric dam construction project. According to Yun, the project is budgeted at around $5 billion, and work will start in 2024, the year in which financing is expected to be definitively concluded.

The project will take a total of six to seven years to complete. Of the approximately $5 billion price tag, 60% is for the construction of the dam and 40 per cent for the power transmission line. At this moment, the development office is preparing the launch of public tenders for the updating of the project’s feasibility studies.

By December 2022, the office will launch a tender for the identification of the strategic investment partner, whose financial closing a 2024 deadline has been set. In terms of shareholding, the Mphanda Nkuwa project will have the participation of the Mozambican state, through Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM) and Cahora Bassa Hydroelectric [(HCB), with between 30% and 35 per cent of shares. The remaining 65 per cent will be secured from private investors.

Carta de Moçambique also informed that there would be consultants involved – from Brazil, the United States, Sweden and South Africa – to assess possible problems associated with the project according to the best international practices, avoiding pitfalls that have marred previous projects implemented in the province and in Mozambique generally.

It reported that experts and strategic investors, including the World Bank (WB) and the African Development Bank (ADB), have discussed some significant aspects concerning the implementation of the Mphanda Nkuwa hydroelectric project.

“Overall, we think this project is very important to the government’s goal of universal access by 2030,” said Zayra Romo, World Bank Mozambique Lead Energy Specialist and Infrastructure Practice Leader. As for the current stage of the project, which consists of the search for a strategic partner for the development of Mphanda Nkuwa, Romo said that the World Bank’s support would consist of ensuring the greatest possible competitiveness for the project, with a view to selecting the best contractor or investors that have experience to effectively manage Mphanda Nkuwa.

A press release from the Mphanda Nkuwa Implementation Office said that these companies and consortia had replied to the tender launched in December 2021, and delivered their pre-qualification documents before the deadline, first fixed on 28 February but, at the request of several of the bidders, it was extended to 18 April. It is hoped that construction of the new dam (which has been on the drawing board for decades) will finally begin in 2024. Construction will last for at least seven years.

According to the media release by the Mphanda Nkuwa Hydroelectric Project Implementation Office, the main objective is to ensure the coordination of actions for the implementation of the Mphanda Nkuwa project.

Location: The Mphanda Nkuwa Dam will be located in Tete Province, Centro region, on the Zambezi River, 61km downstream of the Cahora Bassa Hydroelectric Power Plant.

Project description: The Hydroelectric Power Plant will have a capacity of up to 1,500 Megawatts and an Electric Power Transmission Line from Tete to Maputo with 1,300 kilometres.

Budget: $4.5 to $5 billion, 60 per cent for the construction of the dam and 40 per cent for the power transmission line.

Strategic importance: The project will position Mozambique as an energy hub in southern Africa. It will provide lower-cost energy in the country and region, contribute to universal access to energy in the country by 2030 and support rapid industrialization with job creation, skills development and business opportunities (local content). Social and economic benefits, in the form of royalties and income on concession fees for the Mozambican state.

Environmental approach: The project will be implemented in strict compliance with national standards and internationally accepted best practices for the development of projects of this nature to mitigate negative impacts and maximize positive aspects. In this context, the Mphanda Nkuwa Hydroelectric Project Implementation Office recently signed an agreement with the International Hydroelectricity Association for the assessment of the project’s sustainability, including training and capacity building.

Mozambique News Agency reported, citing government sources, that there were eight international consortiums interested in becoming strategic partners of Mozambique in building the Mphanda Nkuwa dam, with electricity production: ETC Holdings Mauritius, Longyuan Power Overseas Investment (Chinese), PowerChina Resources, WeBuild Group, Scatec (Norway), Sumitomo Corporation, EDF and Kansai Electric Power (Japan).

With an approximate population of 30 million, Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources but remains one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world. It is one of the 16 countries with a collective responsibility to promote socio-economic, political and security cooperation within the Southern African Development Community.

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UNGA 77 Aftermath: AfDB Priorities Climate Finance, Jobs, Food Insecurity



Severe Food Insecurity

By Adedapo Adesanya

The African Development Bank (AfDB) had several productive engagements around its strategic priorities at the just concluded 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meetings in New York.

Meeting highlights included an urgent call for increased financing to mitigate the effects of climate change and food insecurity.

The Group President, Mr Akinwumi Adesina, led the bank’s delegation to the meetings and played an active part in discussions leading to an international declaration to end malnutrition and stunting.

The bank’s engagements reflect its strategic priorities as African countries, which it supports, struggle with the lingering impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as food and fuel price spikes arising from Russia’s war in Ukraine and climate change.

Climate change was a recurring theme in many of the bank’s UNGA discussions, especially the need for urgent financing for the countries most at risk from climate change.

Climate change has assumed greater urgency, with the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) due to be held in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, in less than two months. COP 27, or “the African COP,” as it is being called, presents an unprecedented opportunity for a unified African voice to demand that the global community move beyond talk to concrete action on climate adaptation and mitigation financing.

Speaking at the 2nd ministerial meeting on climate and development, Mr Adesina joined US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and other participants in urging developed countries to deliver on the pledges they made at COP26 in Glasgow last year and under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The bank also joined the Global Leadership Council in a new initiative to scale up clean, reliable energy and address global warming.

The  Global Leadership Council comprises global leaders, including the African Development Bank head, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa; United Nations Development ProgrammeAdministrator Achim Steiner; European Investment Bank. President Werner Hoyer; Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr; and the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Dr Rajiv J. Shah, co-chair of the council.

As a first step, the Council will focus on efforts to break down barriers to just energy transitions in developing countries.

While developing countries are currently responsible for only 25 per cent of global CO2 emissions, this share could grow to 75 per cent by 2050, according to an analysis published by the Alliance. Developing countries currently receive only a fraction of financing to develop clean energy, despite representing nearly half of the world’s population.

The General Assembly allowed the African Development Bank Group to demonstrate particular leadership in efforts to end hunger, nutrition, and stunting across Africa.

Under the Presidential Dialogue Group on Nutrition, inspired by the African Union’s designation of 2022 as the “Year of Nutrition,” the AfDB head joined African presidents to sign a landmark commitment to stop childhood stunting.

According to the Global Nutrition Report— considered the most comprehensive accounting of the state of nutrition worldwide—more than 30 per cent of children in Africa are stunted.

The Dialogue Group is an initiative of the African Development Bank’s African Leaders for Nutrition platform, the Ethiopian government, and Big Win, a philanthropic organization. In addition to Ethiopia, the platform counts the leaders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda among its members.

The bank’s African Emergency Food Production Facility featured prominently at the Global Food Security Summit. Senegal’s President Macky Sall, chair of the African Union, commended the bank for its swift launch of the $1.5 billion facility to avert a looming food crisis. The program is facilitating the production of 38 million tons of food. This represents a $12 billion increase in output in just two years.

In furtherance of the AfDB Jobs for Youth in Africa program to create 25 million jobs by 2025 and related initiatives, the Bank president participated in a high-level session to discuss the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions initiative.

Various leaders also addressed the session from around the world, including Mr Adesina, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera, Uganda’s Vice President Jessica Alupo, and Egypt’s Minister for Planning and Economic Development, Mr Hala El-Said.

Mr Adesina said: “We have to restructure our economies to be productive with education, infrastructure, energy and making sure we have productive sectors that can use people’s skills and absorb that into the economy.”

On the general assembly’s side, Mr Adesina also led a bank delegation to the World Health Organization (WHO) for meetings. The two organizations agreed to work on quality health care infrastructure, vaccines, essential medicines, nutrition, and the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.

Mr Adesina also held bilateral meetings with Kenya’s new president, William Ruto; American billionaire and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg; former US President Bill Clinton and former US Senator Hillary Clinton.

The President also met with Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Norway’s minister for international development and the African Development Bank’s governor. Ahead of the Global Citizen Festival, they discussed efforts to end hunger, and the country will be supporting the African Emergency Food Production Facility.

UNGA 77 brought together world leaders, civil society activists, private sector players, and young people from around the world for two weeks of in-person dialogue in New York City under the theme “A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.”

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UK’s Royal Mint Releases King Charles III Coins



Royal Mint king charles

By Adedapo Adesanya

On Friday, Britain’s Royal Mint unveiled King Charles III’s official effigy that will appear on coins following his accession to the throne.

The effigy is the work of British sculptor, Mr Martin Jennings, and was personally approved by the new king.

The first coins bearing the king’s portrait will be a special £5 coin and a 50 pence coin commemorating the life of Queen Elizabeth II.

Mr Jennings said his portrait was sculpted from a photograph of King Charles, in which he is facing left on the coin, in keeping with a tradition that sees each successive monarch switch profile.

In line with royal tradition, King Charles’ portrait faces to the left, the opposite direction to his late mother.

He is not wearing a crown, which previous kings also did not, though Queen Elizabeth II did in the five coins produced during her reign.

“It is the smallest work I have created, but it is humbling to know it will be seen and held by people around the world for centuries to come,” he said.

The text on the new coin says “CHARLES III • D • G • REX • F • D • 5 POUNDS • 2022,” a shortening of the Latin “King Charles III, by the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith.”

The existing 29 billion coins featuring the queen in circulation in the UK, as well as in Commonwealth countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada, will remain legal tender and be phased out naturally and over time with use.

The image of King Charles will begin to appear on coins in circulation and on commemorative pieces in the coming months, the Royal Mint said in a statement.

Two new portraits of Elizabeth will feature on the reverse of the commemorative five pound coin.

The Royal Mint has been responsible for depicting monarchs on coins for over 1,100 years since Alfred the Great.

Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8 following a record-breaking 70 years on the throne.

Mr Kevin Clancy, director of the Royal Mint Museum, said the late queen had appeared on more coins than any other British monarch.

“Over the coming years, it will become common for people to find coins bearing His Majesty and Queen Elizabeth II’s effigy in their change,” he said.

The Royal Mint said historically, it had been commonplace for coins featuring the effigies of different monarchs to co-circulate.

“This ensures a smooth transition, with minimal environmental impact and cost.”

There are currently around 27 billion coins circulating in the UK bearing the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.

“These will be replaced over time as they become damaged or worn and to meet demand for additional coins,” the Royal Mint added.

The Royal Mint, which has made coins featuring the monarch for over 1,100 years and is Britain’s oldest company, said it would be available to collectors next week and in general use before the end of the year.

King Charles ascended to the throne following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, his mother and earlier this week, the palace said the cause of death recorded on her birth certificate was “old age.”

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