An unprecedented event will be held in Sochi on October 23-24, 2019 – the Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum, co-chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Chairman of the African Union. The significance of this event can hardly be overstated. Russia, for the first time, is hosting the leaders of all of the African countries, says Nathalia Zaiser, Board Chair and Founder of the Africa Business Initiative Union.
This is a truly historic summit, and it is important for many reasons:
First, despite the fact that in the modern world very many economic processes and instruments of cooperation are developed and launched precisely due to business initiatives, as well as with the direct participation of civil society, so-called “political will” plays an important role, which is a sign that the state supports and shares in the work of the business sector, in one respect or another. Furthermore it is ready to contribute, help and lend support. For many, Africa continues to be an ambiguous and unsafe continent. The fact that issues of security, economic cooperation, humanitarian and social interaction will be discussed in Sochi at the level of heads of state will yield a wide range of opportunities for direct, practical cooperation.
Second, on the Summit’s agenda are a number of important political issues, including peace and security, where the heads of state need to work out common positions, understand the processes that are taking place, and find joint solutions to problems affecting the continent’s more “turbulent” countries. The Summit provides an appropriate, timely opportunity for such a dialogue.
Of course, the African leaders are interested in developing relations with Russia. The task of Moscow is not to oppose itself to China or to any other player on the continent. Russia has its own principles, rules and strategy. There is a place for everyone who wants to cooperate with Russia in Africa. Moreover, Russia’s relations with African countries have historically not been burdened by the colonial past; they have a much stronger foundation for friendship, mutual understanding and shared respect for a number of values. It is important to maintain the historically strengthened, unshakable trust and gratitude with which African countries regard Russia. Openness, dignity, healthy pragmatism, the promotion of serious intentions and the highest degree of business responsibility are clearly positive distinguishing features of our cooperation.
Today, Russia has a bundle of benefits and opportunities awaiting it in Africa. It is important not to invest blindly and not to offer immediate help, but to play the long game – to work for the future and through concrete action, stimulate the economic growth of the continent itself. It is necessary for Russia to provide not a fish, but a fishing rod: to help its African partners build processes so that they can further generate their own development. Africa desperately needs infrastructure for the provision of energy, as well as agricultural development and a serious increase in the amount of employment available, due to rapid population growth. It also needs to be able to better provide education and to modernise the social sphere.
Africa needs a global transformation of the economy, which should move from a “donation” economy to a self-sufficient and self-generating economy.In addition, Russia has a successful Middle East security policy and can also export this collective security “vaccine” to the African continent. It should also be noted, that Russia is a multi-confessional country. The experience of managing and developing territories, regions, and districts where citizens of various faiths live peacefully and jointly participate in processes related to creative economic development, can serve as a good example for extrapolating such approaches to African countries with a “fragile” statehood and turbulent environment.