By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
At least, during the past few years, including the COVID-19 pandemic period, the United Kingdom has consistently followed its planned agenda with African countries. The UK has an agenda and has decisively been implementing all aspects. It describes “Africa as a reliable partner” during its historic UK-Africa Investment Summit held in January 2020.
Monitoring developments after the summit, despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused disruptions and lockdowns including in Africa, the United Kingdom has ultimately achieved some successes in Africa. With our broad and random research, we have noticed different priorities – all of which are supporting and strengthening economic partnerships in a number of countries on the continent. The significance of these is to help unlock opportunity, spread prosperity and thus transform lives in Africa.
Judging from our monitoring research indicates that the visible practical steps aimed at building a more resilient continent, it is simultaneously helping to lay the foundation for sustainable future relations. The United Kingdom has displayed, not only heightened interests but also practically delivered on its plans to engage Africa.
As the UK Minister for Africa, MP Vicky Ford, explained, “the overarching aim of all this work is to try to help, build the resilience of countries and to help them have much more durable prosperity. For far too long, African countries have endured the fallout from global forces outside their control and the compelling task is to build more sustainable economies in African countries.”
Take back nearly a decade and a half ago, the 2008 Global Economic Crisis, Africa suffered contagion from what happened in the global financial markets. And the African businesses and African governments were left with holes in their balance sheets from plummeting commodity prices.
“And right now, since Putin’s war against Ukraine, we’ve seen the most dramatic rise in global food, fuel and fertilizer prices in recent history. The consequences of Russia’s illegal aggression are hitting the poorest the hardest, and many of those most exposed are in Africa,” she underscored this undeniable fact – the level of consequences and impact on Africa as a result of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine since late February.
For the past few months this year, African countries have complained about imports of Russian grain or fertilizers. African leaders have understood that it is Russia’s illegal blockade that is preventing Ukrainian grain from leaving that country, and it’s that blockade that is hurting global supplies.
So, time and time again, African countries find themselves buffeted by these global forces and, therefore, the United Kingdom has set a priority to help African countries to insulate themselves against these pressures. Under the current circumstances, what has Russia done to help Africa, it only contributes to deepening social dissatisfaction throughout Africa.
Over the past 12 months, we have calculated or tallied, at least, 14 African countries visited by the UK Minister for Africa, MP Vicky Ford. In most of these African countries, the partnership agenda is, in practical terms, working. It, at the same time, shows a huge difference between rhetoric and what it takes to deliver all that is listed on agenda with Africa. From our monitoring, we can simply say that the United Kingdom is capitalizing on many qualities that make the continent such an attractive destination for investment and for new business there.
On our part, we have discovered a number of positive impacts of the UK’s policy initiatives. For example, in Kenya in East Africa, a British investment of £75 million, through TradeMark East Africa, has eased trade by improving the capacity and efficiency of the Kenyan Ports Authority.
Back 10 years ago, before this investment, it took 10 days on average for goods arriving at Mombasa Port to then leave the port. That turnaround time is now just three and a half days. More goods moving more quickly means that the costs of trade are dramatically reduced, helping trade from Kenya, but also helping those who are importing into this country.
British investors are strategically leveraging unto trade platforms, working to support the creation of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) because trade integration is such a powerful tool to accelerate economic growth, create employment and alleviate or reduce poverty.
The United Kingdom has already trained over 190 African trade negotiators. It is further working closely with the Secretariat to cut red tape on cross-border trade and in March 2022, Minister Vicky Ford and AfCFTA’s Executive Head Wamkele Mene in London announced a package of assistance to get the agreement up and running.
Concretely, it was the launching of a pilot project or programme – the Standards Partnership programme in Ghana and Rwanda. This programme will strengthen supply chains, and reduce barriers to trade by helping both countries meet global standards and regulations.
Then, there’s British International Investment (BII) – the UK’s Development Finance Institution – this continues to be a core part of the economic partnership, offering honest, reliable alternative to financing, to other forms of financing that may come with more strings attached.
Under the G7 presidency, BII pledged to work with its G7 counterparts and multilateral development banks to ramp up the volume of investment into the African private sector – with a collective target of a massive $80 billion available till the year 2027.
BII will target 30% of all new investments into green projects in developing countries over the next 5 years. This will make it one of the world’s largest climate finance providers to African economies.
In Senegal, there is a noticeable transformative impact of the recent BII partnership to expand Dakar’s port infrastructure. This will be Senegal’s largest ever onshore foreign direct investment and will help to drive free trade and to drive economic growth.
In Tanzania, there is also what is referred to as AgDevCo, a UK-funded agribusiness investor. It has transformed ‘Africado’ into a thriving business. They are currently exporting avocados to many British supermarkets. In doing this, it is boosting the livelihood of some 2,000 local smallholders.
Women’s entrepreneurship is a special priority to promote women’s empowerment and support their roles in society. Nigeria, located in West Africa, there are positive results as a result of the impact of £70 million invested in women entrepreneurs and their small businesses.
Our systematic monitoring further shows that the Malindi Solar in Kenya, East Africa’s largest solar plant, was built by the UK firm Globeleq using £32 million of BII financing. It is the sort of green investment British partners need to transition into renewable energy and help them to reduce their exposure to the increasingly unpredictable hydrocarbon markets.
All of these examples proved that development finance is a win-win for African countries and for those who conduct business there. The development finance is not enough, though. But these are very impressive and modest by the range of impactful projects the export credit agency, UKEF has supported across the continent.
UKEF’s very flexible financing rules recognize the global nature of modern supply chains. This flexibility has played a significant role in encouraging oversea buyers to source from UK businesses, whilst also building capacity and creating jobs within developing countries. British companies who use UKEF find these development benefits offer a major competitive advantage when bidding for contracts compared to some of the other external competitors.
Referencing back in January, the launched Growth Gateway is a new business support service to expand trade between the UK and Africa. So far, the Growth Gateway has connected more than 150 African and UK businesses. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has expressed readiness to build on this workable economic diplomacy with Africa.
The UK will be collaborating with a newly launched IFC facility to develop more local currency bonds and support its Financial Sector Deepening Platform (FSDA) in expanding to 45 African countries. It is forming regulatory partnerships, such as the Mauritius Africa Fintech Festival and the Bank of England’s partnership with Morocco’s Bank Al-Maghrib.
Our research shows that 112 African companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) are worth more than £125 billion. Trade UK-Africa trade is approximately £48 billion. It sets a target of mobilizing more sustainable finance, which would include 600 British companies across the continent by CDC Group.
In summary, all these recounted in this article demonstrate the United Kingdom’s achievements and further its practical commitment to partner with African countries in order to drive growth, trade and investment opportunities all across the continent. African leaders and governments and the private sector operators are continuously embracing these efforts. Creating a resilient future through sustainable economic growth is at the heart of the United Kingdom.
UST, Luna Founder Dodges Arrest as Interpol Issues Red Notice
By Adedapo Adesanya
In what is the latest scandal in the cryptocurrency industry, Mr Do Kwon, the founder of Terraform Labs, has said that he is not on the run from South Korean authorities after the country’s prosecutors’ office said it had received an international arrest warrant on him.
Mr Kwon’s company was behind the algorithmic stablecoin TerraUSD or UST and its sister token Luna which, combined, were worth around $60 billion and in May collapsed to near-to-nothing.
The collapse of Terra cryptocurrency (Luna) and the so-called stablecoin TerraUSD (UST) wiped out investors’ money, prompting an uproar that caused the prosecutors to launch investigations into Kwon and his colleagues.
South Korea has been seeking Mr Kwon’s arrest since earlier this month. But prosecutors in the country have alleged that he is on the run.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office in South Korea’s capital city said that global law enforcement agency Interpol has issued a “Red Notice” for Mr Kwon.
Red Notices are issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence, according to Interpol. The notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and arrest the person in question. This could then lead to extradition.
Mr Kwon, however, said he was not on the run, using his Twitter account to hit back at authorities.
“I’m writing code in my living room hbu,” Mr Kwon tweeted in reply to someone asking about his whereabouts.
Mr Kwon insisted he is making “zero effort to hide,” saying he goes on walks and to malls.
He also said he does not see his name on Interpol’s “Red Notice” list, a statement that can be contested since the international agency does not always make these notices public.
While Mr Kwon’s Twitter location says he is in Singapore, the Singapore Police Force said that Mr Kwon was not in the country earlier this month.
The South Korean prosecutors said the purpose of the Red Notice is to locate Kwon, bring him back to South Korea and then officials will decide within 48 hours whether to issue an arrest warrant for him.
South Korea issued an arrest warrant for the founder earlier this month, a move that saw many investors sell their positions in the revived Luna token.
“We are in the process of defending ourselves in multiple jurisdictions — we have held ourselves to an extremely high bar of integrity and look forward to clarifying the truth over the next few months,” Mr Kwon said in a tweet this month.
Some Reflections on Russia’s Economic Policy with Africa
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
During the September ceremony to receive foreign ambassadors, Russian leader Vladimir Putin offered spiteful goal-setting policy outlines and some aspects of lofty Russia’s economic policy directions for Africa. Most of these directions considered significant have, over these years, featured prominently in all his previous speeches on Russia’s relations with Africa.
On September 20, in the St Alexander Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace, Putin received letters of credence from 24 newly-arrived ambassadors, including nine from Africa (Algeria, Egypt, DR Congo, Libya, Mali, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda). By tradition, Putin briefly characterised the relations between Russia and countries whose envoys came to the Kremlin ceremony.
In a grandiose style, Putin gave a line-up of cheerful-looking ambassadors a step-by-step account of the global situation, the necessity for Russia’s “special military operation” in neighbouring Ukraine, questions relating to regional security, and economic instability due to rising prices for energy and commodities. He underscored the development of multipolar and more democratic and fair world order had entered its active phase.
“Regrettably, the objective movement towards multipolarity has come up against resistance from those trying to preserve their dominant role in international affairs and to control everything – Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa,” Putin said.
Referencing the current international situation with an emphasis on the critical regional problems of the African continent and the bilateral relations of African countries whose ambassadors were accredited to the Russian Federation, Putin stressed “the importance of the upcoming second Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg in 2023 for strengthening diverse relations between Russia and African countries.”
Putin further touched on Moscow’s efforts to restore its geopolitical foothold on the continent after the historical collapse of the Soviet era. While the summit is considered a significant development for Russia’s power-wielding ambitions, Putin strongly reminded African ambassadors that the second Russia-Africa summit is scheduled to be held in St Petersburg in 2023. “We hope that together we will be able to give a new impetus to the comprehensive development of mutually beneficial cooperation between Russia and the African states,” he said.
Significant to note here that at the far end of the first summit, Russia and Africa issued a joint declaration; among the questions was to hold the summit every three years. Both Russia and Africa could not hold the summit during its third year, and both Russia and Africa failed to choose the summit venue. While reasons were not assigned for this sharp inconsistency, policy experts suggested either the Central African Republic (CAR) or the Republic of Mali could hold the summit. CAR and Mali are “reliable Russia’s partners,” and holding the summit would have resonating effects.
During his speech, Putin invited the President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune, to visit Russia. Understandably, Algeria is Russia’s second-largest trading partner in Africa regarding trade volume. And trade and economic cooperation continue to develop actively, as well as ties in other areas, including military-technical and cultural ties. Reports say Russia supports Algeria’s balanced regional and international affairs policy and continues to work together towards strengthening stability in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahara-Sahel region.
“We consistently build friendly relations with Egypt under the fundamental Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Cooperation signed in 2018. We view Egypt as one of our most important partners in Africa and the Arab world. We are in constant contact with President Sisi,” according to Putin.
The intergovernmental commission has been working, promoting trade growth, which increased by more than 40 per cent in the first six months of this year. Large joint projects are being implemented, such as constructing the El Dabaa nuclear power plant and creating a Russian industrial zone near the Suez Canal. There is a regular political dialogue and close foreign policy coordination. Within the general policy framework, Russia does not grant concessionary loans and has not publicly allocated a budget for Africa.
But in this exceptional case, Russia and Egypt signed an agreement, and the total cost of construction is fixed at $30 billion. Russia provides Egypt with a loan of $25 billion, which will cover 85% of the work. The Egyptian side will cover the remaining expenses by attracting private investors. Under the agreement, Egypt is to start payments on the loan, which was provided at 3% per annum, in October 2029.
Ambassador Harouna Samake (Republic of Mali) was among the envoys in the Kremlin and listened attentively as Putin welcomed the intention of the leadership of the Republic of Mali to form a long-term strategic partnership with Russia and develop mutually beneficial ties.
During a detailed telephone conversation in August with Interim President Assimi Goïta, Putin agreed to continue joint efforts in countering international terrorism and religious extremism. He further pledged that Russia would continue to provide the Malian people with comprehensive assistance and support in various ways.
The same diplomatic rhetoric praised Russia’s relations with Uganda, one of Russia’s reliable partners in Africa. The United Republic of Tanzania has listed promising spheres such as peaceful nuclear research, transport, energy and tourism. These spheres have been on Russia’s list for many other African countries.
Over the years, Russia has performed dismally in Africa’s transport and energy sector. In theory, it has expressed heightened interest in exploring and producing oil and gas in Africa. But so far, its investment efforts are not seen in the region. Russia claims the leading position as an energy supplier and is now rapidly diversifying its products at discounted prices to the Asian market. Therefore, it is logical that African leaders should not expect much from the Russian Federation in this oil and gas (energy) sector.
Currently, all African countries have a serious energy crisis. Over 620 million in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have electricity out of 1.3 billion people. In this context, several African countries are exploring nuclear energy as part of the solution. Three decades after the Soviet collapse, not a single nuclear plant has been completed in Africa.
Some still advocate for alternative energy supply. Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, Founder and Executive Director of Danquah Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes policy initiatives and advocates for Africa’s development, wrote in an email that “Africa needs expertise and knowledge transfer that can assist Africa to develop its physical infrastructure, add value to two of its key resources: natural resources and human capital.”
Russia has respectable expertise in one key area for Africa: energy development. “But, has Russia the courage, for instance, to take on the stalled $8-$10 billion Inga-3 hydropower project on the Congo river? This is the kind of development project that can vividly send out a clear signal to African leaders and governments that Russia is, indeed, ready for business,” he said in an interview discussion.
The renewable energy potential is enormous in Africa, citing the Democratic Republic of Congo Grand Inga Dam. Grand Inga is the world’s largest proposed hydropower scheme. It is a grand vision to develop a continent-wide power system. Grand Inga-3 is expected to have an electricity-generating capacity of about 40,000 megawatts – nearly twice as much as the 20 largest nuclear power stations. The cost of building nuclear power does not make sense when compared to the cost of building renewables or other energy sources to solve energy shortages in Africa.
With high optimism and a high desire to strengthen its geopolitical influence, Russia has engaged in sloganism, and many of its signed agreements have not been implemented. The joint declaration adopted at the first summit is intended to raise the African agenda of Russia’s foreign policy to a new level and remains the main document determining the conceptual framework of Russian-African cooperation. Many remain as submit paperwork. China, Japan, India, the United States, the European Union and other players are progressively implementing their African strategies.
Over the years, Russia has shown high interest in Libya, whose ambassador, Emhemed Almaghrawi (State of Libya), was part of the Kremlin ceremony in September. Over the years, Russia has struggled to improve its bilateral political and economic dialogue and cooperation with that North African country. It has faced many pitfalls and obstacles, though.
“We attach great importance to relations with Libya and are interested in a fair and lasting settlement of the protracted internal conflict in that country. Russia will continue to support Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and help the friendly Libyan people defend their right to a decent life, peace and security. As the internal situation in Libya stabilises, we look forward to resuming bilateral cooperation in various fields,” Putin said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov condemned the Atlantic alliance when he spoke to students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in Moscow on September 1. Russia claims it lost billions of dollars in energy, defence, and infrastructure contracts it had negotiated with the removal of Col. Qaddafi. Russia’s state arms exporter lost an estimated $4 billion in Libyan contracts after the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Libya.
Russian Railways had secured a $3 billion contract to build a high-speed rail link from Sirt to Benghazi. Many of these contracts were either signed in Qaddafi’s presence or were organized by him. Russia’s state news agency ITAR-TASS estimates that the country could lose as much as $10 billion in business if Libya’s new leadership challenges the legality of the existing contracts.
As Anna Borshchevskaya, an Ira Weiner Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, observes that military has been part of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation, and Russian authorities have been strengthening military-technical cooperation with some African countries.
“A major driver for Moscow’s push into Africa is military cooperation more broadly. These often include officer training and the sale of military equipment, though the details are rarely publicly available,” she acknowledges, “and it will continue so in Russia’s relations with Africa.
Russia has made significant arms deals with Angola and Algeria. Reports show that Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Mali, Sudan and Libya have also bought arms from Russia. Small countries such as Burundi, Botswana, and Rwanda, with distinctively impoverished populations and budgetary limitations, have signed agreements. Russia also provides military training and support; it has defence orders worth $14 billion from African countries.
According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, quoting military experts, Russia has much to gain by promoting and attempting to dispose of its Soviet-era military equipment in Africa. After all, Russia is self-sufficient and has economic independence, so with enthusiasm, convincing African leaders to purchase fertilizers and grains, thereby pushing them towards depleting their hard-earned revenues. Without a doubt, African leaders endlessly boast of vast uncultivated lands.
During these months of the Russia-Ukraine crisis and sanctions from the United States, Europe and Pacific allies, Russian diplomacy has repeatedly stressed that Moscow is ready to export 30 million tons of grain and over 20 million tons of fertilizer by the end of 2022.
According to local Russian media reports, the Russian Agriculture Ministry’s Agroexport Federal Centre for Development of Agribusiness Exports, in close partnership collaboration with Trust Technologies and the business expert community, drew up a business plan for the development of exports for agricultural products (grain, dairy, meat and confectionery products) to promising markets of African countries.
The project’s goal is to prepare a practice-oriented model for increasing supplies and enhancing the competitiveness of Russian agricultural goods in the African market. The report says nine African countries have been chosen as target markets for the delivery of agricultural products. These are Angola, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Tunisia and South Africa.
That report explicitly notes African leaders’ readiness to spend state budgets on food imports; without a doubt, “food security” is the central theme for the 2023 Russia-Africa summit. These countries account for 40% of the continent’s population and one-third of all African imports of agricultural products; Russia estimates to earn some $33 billion from Africa.
In practical terms, a microscopic analysis of Russia’s economic presence gives many interpretations and contradictions. While currently, Russia seems to be soliciting the support of Africa to lead the emerging new world order, Russia still does not recognize that it needs to adopt more public outreach policies to win the minds and hearts of Africans. Its economic footprint on the continent is comparatively weak. Instead of addressing its own investment agenda, it has consistently criticised other foreign players, especially the United States and European countries, that are active in Africa.
Many Russian companies have abandoned their projects in Africa. The latest is the lucrative platinum project contract that was signed for $3 billion in September 2014, the platinum mine is located about 50 km northwest of Harare, the Zimbabwean capital. The Darwendale project involves a consortium of the Rostekhnologii State Corporation, Vneshekonombank and Vi Holding in a joint venture with some private Zimbabwe investors and the Zimbabwean government.
After widely campaigning for the construction of what was referred to as the “Southern Oil&Gas Pipelines” that was supposed to connect three or four southern African countries, Russia’s Rosneft finally abandoned the project. And similarly, State Nuclear Enterprise Rosatom never mentioned again the proposed nuclear plant construction signed by Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
Russia’s Lukoil undertook exploratory feasibility studies in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana, only to abandon these projects. Nigeria’s Ajeokuta Steel Plant project remains a dream project for Russians. Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel), the Russian mining giant, ceased operations in Botswana. It owned a stake in the Tati Nickel in Botswana, where production was expected to reach its highest level. It has previously given a positive assessment of the possibilities for developing its production assets in South Africa and many African countries. There is a long list of Russian companies that under-performed or performed badly and finally exited Africa.
Just a few weeks before his departure from Moscow, the Zimbabwean ambassador to the Russian Federation, Brigadier General Nicholas Mike Sango, told me in an interview discussion that several issues could strengthen the relationship. One important direction is economic cooperation. African diplomats have consistently been persuading Russia’s businesses to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) as an opportunity for Russian businesses to establish footprints on the continent. This view has not found favour with them, and it is hoped over time, it will.
Although the government has not pronounced incentives for businesses to set sights and venture into Africa, Russian businesses generally view Africa as too risky for their investment. He said that Russia needs to set footprints on the continent by exporting its competitive advantages in engineering and technological advancement to bridge the gap that is retarding Africa’s industrialization and development.
“Worse is that 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 told me during the lengthy pre-departure interview. He served the Republic of Zimbabwe in the Russian Federation from July 2015 to August 2022. He previously held various high-level posts, such as military adviser in Zimbabwe’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and as an international instructor in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
There are several similar criticisms from former ambassadors. According to Mandisi Mpahlwa, former South African Ambassador, Sub-Saharan Africa has understandably been low on post-Soviet Russia’s list of priorities, given that Russia is not as dependent on Africa’s natural resources as other major economies. The reason: Soviet and African relations, anchored as they were on the fight to push back the frontiers of colonialism, did not necessarily translate into trade, investment and economic ties, which would have continued seamlessly with post-Soviet Russia.
“Russia’s objective of taking the bilateral relationship with Africa to the next level cannot be realized without a close partnership with the private sector. Africa and Russia are close politically but geographically distant, and the people-to-people ties are still underdeveloped. This translates into a low level of knowledge on both sides of what the other has to offer. There is perhaps also a fear of the unknown in both countries,” Mpahlawa said in an interview after completing his ambassadorial duty in the Russian Federation.
Russia has a lot of policy weaknesses in Africa. Reports indicated that more than 90 agreements were signed at the end of the first Russia-Africa summit. Thousands of bilateral agreements are still on the drawing board, and century-old promises and pledges for supporting sustainable development are authoritatively renewed with African countries. Like a polar deer waking up from its deep slumber, Russia is flashing its geopolitical headlights in all directions on Africa.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website indicates that there have been several top-level bilateral meetings, signing of MoUs and bilateral agreements during the past years. 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 and definitive results on the agenda remains small. It explicitly points out the inconsistent approach in dealing with Africa. Russia lacks public outreach policies for Africa. Apart from the absence of a public strategy for the continent, there is a lack of coordination among various state and para-state institutions working with Africa.
Ultimately, actions, not words, will determine if upcoming Russia -Africa Summit and the proposed Africa strategy will reset relations with the continent. The significant fact here is that little has been achieved since the first Russia-Africa summit held in October 2019. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Ambassador-at-Large and head of the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, Oleg Ozerov, food security will be one of the top issues on the agenda of the second Russia-Africa Summit.
It is a fact that Russia’s ties with Africa declined with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In the aftermath of the Soviet Union, Russia continues efforts in search of possible collaboration and opportunities for cooperation in the past years. But most essentially, Russians must understand clearly that little has been achieved in Africa. Several bilateral agreements signed with individual countries are not implemented, while in the previous years, there has been an unprecedented huge number of “working visits” to Africa.
According to our research findings, in stark contrast to key global players, for instance, the United States, China, the European Union and many others, Russia’s policies have little impact on African development paradigms. Russia’s policies have often ignored Africa’s sustainable development questions. Experts have repeatedly suggested Russia adopt an Action Plan – a practical document that would fill cooperation with substance between summits. In conclusion, Russians must strongly remember that Africa’s roadmap is the African Union Agenda 2063.
Critical Views on Russia’s Policy Towards Africa within the Context of the New World Order
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
In September’s WhatApp’s conversation with Matthew Ehret, a Senior Fellow and International Relations expert at the American University in Moscow, he offers an insight into some aspects of Russia-African relations within the context of the emerging new world order.
In particular, Matthew gives in-depth views on Russia’s valuable contribution in a number of economic sectors, including infrastructure development during the past few years in Africa, some suggestions for African leaders and further the possible implications of Russia-China collaboration with Africa. Here are important excerpts of the wide-ranging interview:
What are the implications here and from historical perspectives that Russia is looking for its allies from Soviet-era in Africa…and “non-Western friends” for creating the new world order?
Russia is certainly working very hard to consolidate its alliances with many nations of the global south and former non-aligned network. This process is hinged on the Russia-China alliance best exemplified by the integration of the Eurasian Economic Union with the Belt and Road Initiative and the spirit of cooperation outlined in the February 4 Joint Statement for a New Era of Cooperation.
Of course, this is more than simply gaining spheres of influence as many analysts try to interpret the process now underway, but has much more to do with a common vision for instituting a new system of cooperation, creative growth and long-term thinking uniting diverse cultural and religious groups of the globe around a common destiny which is a completely different type of paradigm than the unipolar ideology of closed-system thinking dominant among the technocrats trying to manage the rules-based international order.
The Soviet Union, of course, enormously supported Africa’s liberation struggle and attained political independence in the 60s. What could be the best practical way for Russia to fight what it now referred to as “neocolonialism” in Africa?
Simply operating on a foundation of honest business is an obvious but important thing to do. The African people have known mostly abuse and dishonest neo-colonial policies under the helm of the World Bank and IMF since WW2, and so having Russia continue to provide investment and business deals tied to the construction of special economic zones that drive industrial growth, infrastructure, and especially modern electricity access which Africa desperately needs are key in this process.
African countries currently need to transform the untapped resources, build basic infrastructure and get industrialized -these are necessary to become somehow economic independent. How do you evaluate Russia’s role in these economic areas, at least during the past decade in Africa?
It has been improving steadily. Of course, Russia does not have the same level of national control over its banking system as we see enjoyed by China, whose trade with Africa has attained $200 billion in recent years while Russia’s trade with Africa is about $20 billion. But despite that, Russia has done well to not only provide trains in Egypt and has made the emphasis on core hard infrastructure, energy, water systems, and interconnectivity a high priority in the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit and the upcoming 2023 Summit.
Generally, how can we interpret the African elite’s sentiments about Russia’s return to Africa? Do you think Russia is most often critical of the United States and European Union’s hegemony in Africa?
I think the over-arching feeling is one of trust and relief that Russia has returned with a spirit of cooperation. According to all the messaging from Lavrov, who recently completed an important Africa tour in late July, I can say that Russia is very critical of the USA and EU approach to hegemony in Africa. As Museveni and the South African Foreign Minister have recently emphasized, they are sick of being talked down to and threatened by western patronizing technocrats. In contrast, we see a sense of mutual respect in the discourse of Russian and Chinese players, which is seen as a breath of fresh air.
While the West is obsessed with “appropriate green technologies” for Africa while chastising the continent for its corruption problems (which is fairly hypocritical when one looks at the scope of corruption within the Wall Street- City of London domain), Russia supports all forms of energy development from coal, oil, natural gas and even nuclear which Africa so desperately needs to leapfrog into the 21st century.
Understandably, Russia’s policy has to stimulate or boost Africa’s economic aspirations, especially among the youth and the middle class. What are your views about this? And your objective evaluation of Russia’s public outreach diplomacy with Africa?
So far, Russia has done well in stimulating its youth policy with expanded scholarships to African youth touching on agricultural science, engineering, medicine, IT, and other advanced sectors. Additionally, the Special Economic Zones built up by Russia in Mozambique and Egypt has established opportunities for manufacturing and other technical training that has largely been prevented from growing under the IMF-World Bank model of conditionality laced loans driven primarily by the sole aim of resource extraction for western markets and overall control by a western elite. Russia has tended to follow China’s lead (and her own historical traditions of aiding African nations in their development aspirations) without pushing the sorts of regime change operations or debt slavery schemes which have been common practice by the west for too long.
Sochi summit has already provided the key to the questions you discussed above. Can these, if strategically and consistently addressed, mark a definitive start of a new dawn in Russia-African relations?
Geopolitical confrontation, rivalry and competition in Africa. Do you think there is an emerging geopolitical rivalry, and confrontation between the United States and Europe (especially France) in Africa? What if, in an alliance, China and Russia team up together?
China and Russia have already teamed up together on nearly every aspect of geopolitical, scientific, cultural and geo-economic interest imaginable which has created a robust basis for the continued successful growth of the multipolar alliance centred as it is upon such organizations as the BRICS+, SCO, ASEAN and BRI/Polar Silk Road orientation. This is clear across Africa as well and to the degree that this alliance continues to stand strong, which I see no reason why it would not for the foreseeable future, then an important stabilizing force can not only empower African nations to resist the threats, intimidation and destabilizing influences of western unipolarists.
Latest News on Business Post
- NGX All-Share Index Outperforms Inflation Over Three Years September 29, 2022
- Laolu Martins Was Minority Shareholder of Bukka Hut—Management September 29, 2022
- Usman Laments Nigeria, Saudi Arabia Trade Volume of $5m September 29, 2022
- Nigeria Ratifies ILO Convention on Violence, Harassment in Workplace September 29, 2022
- CBN Insists Rate Hike to 15.5% Not Textbook Economics September 29, 2022
- Unity Bank, Lagos Food Bank Address Hunger, Malnutrition September 29, 2022
- Financial Phishing Cyberattacks Jump 79% in Nigeria September 29, 2022
- FCCPC Records Decline in Complaints from Customers of Digital Loan Sharks September 29, 2022
- P&ID: Abuja Court Orders Arrest of British National for Jumping Bail September 29, 2022
- Nigeria Sells Treasury Bills at 12% to Attract Investors September 29, 2022