The development and consolidation of mutually beneficial ties with African nations and their integration associations is now one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities. President Vladimir Putin
The Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum took place on 23–24 October in Sochi. The event’s motto was “For Peace, Security and Development”. This is the first time in the history of modern Russia that an event of this kind has been held at such a high level, and it is unprecedented in the history of Russian-African relations. Official delegations from African countries and business representatives expressed great interest in the further development of relations, and in deepening and intensifying Russian-African cooperation. Wide-ranging preparatory work was carried out in the run-up to the Russia–Africa Economic Forum, serving the purpose of strengthening and expanding interaction between Russia and Africa.
Priority areas of economic cooperation in which concrete results can be achieved in the coming years were outlined. The main areas identified were energy, including renewables, infrastructure development and especially railway and housing construction, modern and high-tech extraction and processing of mineral resources, agriculture, digital technologies, oil and gas exploration, medicine, science and education. At the Summit a final declaration was adopted by the participants.
The document outlines a set of goals and objectives for the further development of Russian-African cooperation in politics, security, the economy, science, technology, culture and humanitarian fields. It is worth noting that the declaration includes a new mechanism for dialogue, the Russian-African partnership mechanism, which calls for the Russia–Africa Summit to be held once every three years. “In order to coordinate the development of the Russian-African relationship, the Russia–Africa Partnership Forum is to be established and the Russia–Africa Summit is to be its supreme authority, which will be held once every three years,” the document states. “During the time between the summits, the Russian Federation is to hold annual political consultations with ministers of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation and the African countries taking current, past and future chairmanship of the African Union.” The declaration also states the shared determination of Russia and Africa to take this cooperation to the next level, responding to the challenges of the 21st century at a time when exchanging technological products, generating and trading globally in knowledge and competencies is growing in significance. The Russia–Africa panel discussion will become a permanent fixture at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, while Roscongress will continue working on the African track until the next Forum.
1. Working with participants
The Russia–Africa Economic Forum was attended by more than 6,000 participants and media representatives from Russia and 104 foreign countries and territories. Among the participants were over 1,100 representatives of international business, around 1,400 representatives of Russian business, over 1,900 members of official foreign delegations and over 300 Russian delegation members.
All 54 African states were represented officially at the Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum, 45 of which were represented by their heads of state (Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, the Gambia, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe). The Forum’s events were attended by the heads of executive bodies of eightAfrican regional organizations: the African Union Commission, the African Export–Import Bank, the East African Community, the G5 Sahel, the Arab Maghreb Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Economic Community of Central African States, the Economic Community of West African States. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development representatives attended as well. 109 foreign ministers and the Vice President of Liberia Jewel Howard Taylor and Vice-President of Burundi Joseph Butore also attended the events.
Among the most eminent representatives of international and Russian business who regularly participate in Roscongress Foundation events are Chair of Unitel Isabel Dos Santos, from Angola; Chief Executive Officer at Gemcorp Capital LLP investment company Atanas Bostandjiev, from the UK; President of Transmashholding Andrey Bokarev; General Director and Chairman of the Board of KAMAZ Sergey Kogogin; Chairman of the Board of Directors of URALCHEM Dmitry Mazepin; and President of LUKOILVagitAlekperov.
The following eminent representatives of international business were participating in a Roscongress Foundation event for the first time: Naspers Group CEO Bob van Dijk and CEO of Naspers Ltd Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, from South Africa; Chairman of the Board of Directors of Egyptian National Railways Ashraf Raslan; CEO of energy company MYA Energy Youssef El Alaoui, from Morocco; CEO of CalBank Limited Frank Adu Jr., from Ghana; CEO of Centurion NJ Ayuk JD, from South Africa; and CEO of C-Nergy Ghana Limited Michael Cobblah.
Representatives of Russian federal authorities participating in the Forum included Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District of the Russian Federation YuryTrutnev, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Southern Federal District of the Russian Federation Vladimir Ustinov, and 11 ministers of the Russian Federation (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, Ministry of Economic Development, and Ministry of Energy), seven heads of Russian federal agencies and services (Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare, Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport, Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs, Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation, Federal Agency for Mineral Resources, and Federal Agency for Fisheries).
“The historical significance of the Russia–Africa events is clear to many generations of people who lived through the USSR. Modern Russia, which already has experience of successful cooperation with African countries under its belt, is ready to make an offer to the African continent that will secure mutually beneficial partnership and the joint realization of the potential accumulated through decades of painstaking work carried out by several generations of Soviet and Russian people,” saidAdviser to the President of the Russian Federation and Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee Anton Kobyakov.
2. Business programme of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum
Discussions devoted to the potential for developing cooperation and interaction on the African continent formed the basis of the Russia–Africa Forum business programme. The Economic Forum opened with a plenary on ‘Russia and Africa: Uncovering the Potential for Cooperation’. President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdelfattah Al-Sisi spoke as the co-chairs of the Russia–Africa Summit.
“Over the last five years, trade flows between Russia and Africa have more than doubled and, as our colleague has just pointed out, surpassed the USD 20 billion mark. Is this a lot, or not so much? <…> It seems to me that this figure is too small. Please bear in mind, ladies and gentlemen, that our trade with Egypt accounts for 7.7 billion, or 40%, of this 20 billion figure. We have many potential partners in Africa, it is true, and we are talking about potential partners with strong opportunities for development and huge growth potential,” said Vladimir Putin, opening the Russia–Africa Economic Forum.
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdelfattah Al-Sisi underlined the special role of the Russian Federation in strengthening peace, stability and economic progress between Russia and Africa at the plenary. In particular he noted: “We hugely appreciate the fact that the Russian Federation is devoting its efforts to strengthening cooperation with Africa, and we view the Economic Forum as an important venue for demonstrating opportunities to develop investment and trade between our nations, which will help to strengthen our ties in line with the 2063 concept [agenda] developed by the African Union.”
Participants in the plenary programme also included:
“Roscongress will continue working on the African track until the next Forum”
Corporate Africa | Corporate Africa Newsfrom the Russian side – Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Maxim Oreshkin; Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation Dmitry Kobylkin; Chief Executive Officer of the Russian Export Centre Andrey Slepnev; and President and Chairman of the Management Board of VTB Bank Andrey Kostin; from the African side –Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union Commission Amani Abou-Zeid; Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Stergomena Lawrence Tax;President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank) Benedict OkeyOramah; and CEO of Naspers Ltd Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa. Director of the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Irina Abramova moderated the plenary.
During the plenary, the Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Maxim Oreshkin presented the Map of Russian Competencies for Africa, an information and analytical software solution that introduced guests from African countries to Russian competencies in various spheres and the competitiveness of Russian products on international markets. The Map of Russian Competencies for Africa includes 39 products representing seven competencies: medicine, mineral resources, digital state, education, transport infrastructure, energy and agriculture. Over 170 Russian companies and organizations submitted a total of 280 proposals.
“The African nations are now undergoing a series of transformations spanning infrastructure, the digital sphere, and the human sphere. The task of these transformations is to increase the quality of life of the people who make up this wonderful continent. Russia has amassed a vast array of competencies in recent years, and we are now ready to implement joint projects aimed at improving people’s quality of life,” said Oreshkin.
The map was available during the Forum, where it was displayed on touchscreen panels in the exhibition area. At the end of the Forum it will be scaled to include other foreign countries and made available online at www.export.economy.gov.ru.
The discussions were organized into three thematic pillars: ‘Forging Economic Ties’, ‘Creating Joint Projects’, and ‘Collaborating in the Humanitarian and Social Sector’. In total, 31 sessions were held, covering the development of trade and economic relations, existing and potential joint projects in the oil and gas sector and agribusiness, the creation of transport infrastructure, construction, and nuclear energy. 268 speakers participated in the discussions, including Minister of Health of the Russian Federation Veronika Skvortsova; Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation Mikhail Kotyukov; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Mikhail Bogdanov; Director General of State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM Alexey Likhachev; Сhief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Executive Committee of ALROSA Sergey Ivanov; President and Chairman of the Management Board of VTB Bank Andrey Kostin; CEO of Rostec State Corporation Sergey Chemezov; and Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Executive Board of Russian Railways Oleg Belozerov.
Furthermore, the Russia–Africa News Agencies Forum was held on the sidelines of the Forum, providing a platform for discussion of the media’s role in Russian–African relations. All events on the business programme were conducted in the four official languages of the bodies and institutions of the African Union: English, French, Arabic, and Portuguese.
3. Agreements and business negotiations
“92 agreements, contracts and memoranda of understanding were signed at the Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum. Documents worth a total of RUB 1.004 trillion were signed, excluding agreements whose value is a trade secret. Looking at the figures by sector, most of the documents signed were in export and foreign trade, international cooperation, high technologies, transport and logistics, extraction of mineral resources and oil and gas exploration, and investments and banking activities,” saidAdviser to the President of the Russian Federation and Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee Anton Kobyakov. “Trade between Russia and Africa has doubled over the last five years, and all the prerequisites are in place for this figure to grow further. Six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world today are in Africa. This is a continent that is home to the youngest and fastest-growing population on the planet. Mutually beneficial partnership, therefore, is crucial to the development of our countries’ economies, and the Russia–Africa Forum will play a leading role in this process. The next edition of the Forum will take place three years from now. It is important that we undertake to continue our intensive work during this time in order to strengthen dialogue through meetings of various kinds alongside our African colleagues, while working on the agenda for the business programme at the next Forum.”
Key agreements include:
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Russian Federation and the African Union on basic principles of relations and cooperation was adopted at the Summit in the presence of Vladimir Putin and Abdelfattah Al-Sisi.
Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the African Union on economic cooperation was signed by Tigran Sargsyan, the Chairman of the EEC Board, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
Export / Foreign trade:
• Sberbank, the Russian Export Center, VEB.RF and Gemcorp Capital LLP investment company signed a framework agreement on the creation of a mechanism to finance trade between Russia and African countries. The agreement is designed to develop cooperation with African countries through the organization of credit mechanisms for joint foreign trade projects and opens up opportunities for increasing Russian export volumes by way of financial support for the supply of Russian products to the African continent, including but not limited to Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Value of agreement – RUB 320.3 billion.
• EFKO Group and Egyptian company United Oil signed an agreement of intent. The two sides plan to create a joint enterprise for the production of fat and oil products. Vegetable oils and food ingredients will be produced for regional markets in Southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The parties also plan to construct a grain terminal in the Mediterranean Sea for the transshipment of 2 million tonnes of freight per year.
Total project investment – RUB 19.2 billion.
Investments / Banking activities:
• TheInternational Agency for Sovereign Development (IASD) has signed agreements with and become a consultant to the governments of the Republic of the Niger, the Republic of Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The agency will bring in investments to fund the development programmes of these countries.
Total project investment – RUB159.9 billion.
Industry / Construction:
• URALCHEM and Grupo Opaia SA have signed a memorandum of understanding on the construction of a urea production enterprise in Angola. The project also calls for the construction of port infrastructure. The Russian company will be responsible for all issues related to design and the manufacturing process, while Grupo Opaia SA will oversee the sale of fertilizers and their distribution to the country’s state farms.
Project cost – RUB 83.3 billion.
• Russian State Development Corporation VEB.RF, the Russian Export Center and Moroccan company MYA Energy (part of Marita Group Holding) signed a memorandum of cooperation in order to finance the construction of an oil refinery in Morocco with a capacity of up to 5 million tonnes per year.
Total project investment – RUB 35.6 billion.
Transport / Logistics:
• Major Russian transport engineering company Transmashholding signed an agreement with Egyptian National Railways on the supply of 1,300 passenger cars to Egypt. The agreement on the supply of cars to Egypt also outlines a proposal for the assembly of cars made from Russian-produced components in Hungary. The cars will then be exported to Egypt.
Total project investment – RUB 71.1 billion.
• Russian service robot manufacturer Promobot and Nigerian company Pailz Global Ventures signed an agreement on the supply of one Promobot V.4 robot in the value of USD 22,000. Additionally, a distribution agreement was signed that will see ten Russian robots delivered to Nigeria in 2019–2020. The promobots will be used at health clinics and airports in Nigeria, as well as in the entertainment sector.
Total project investment – RUB 15.2 billion.
The following memoranda were also signed:
• an agreement between LUKOIL and the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea;
• a memorandum of cooperation between Russian Railways and the Ministry of Transport and Channels of Communication of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
• a memorandum of cooperation between Russian Railways and the Federal Ministry of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
To promote the further development of Russian–African economic and financial relations, as well as cooperation in humanitarian and social spheres, to further facilitate business networking, and promote the image of Russia, the Roscongress Foundation signed 13 agreements on cooperation with the following organizations: the Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority; the National Agency for Investment Promotion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chad; the ExpoLink Egyptian Exporters Association; the Nigerian Agency for Investment Promotion and Strategic Projects; the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Burkina Faso; the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences; the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture; the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry; theChamber of Commerce and Industry of Mali; the Federation of Businesses of the Congo; and the Confederation of Economic Associations of Mozambique.
Thus, the number of countries, trade partners, entrepreneurs, financial, trade and business associations, with which the Roscongress Foundation has established interaction on the basis of international partnership agreements increasedfrom 94 to 107.
569 meetings were held at the Forum’s working space, which was organized by the Roscongress Foundation with the support of the Russian Export Center.
The economy likely sustained a solid pace of growth in the final quarter: Private sector activity seems to have expanded robustly in October and November, despite losing some momentum from H1, while the arrival of the short rainy season likely boosted agricultural and hydro-powered electricity output. That said, a slowdown in remittance inflows, rising inflationary pressures—mainly owing to the adoption of the 8% VAT on fuel—and continued lackluster credit growth, which bode ill for household incomes, point to weaker private spending in the quarter. Moreover, although the introduction of the VAT has improved the fiscal account, the misalignment between overly optimistic revenue targets and the government’s spending plans raises concerns about its ability to satisfy its fiscal consolidation goals. In view of making debt repayments more manageable, the country is looking to roll over a syndicated loan worth USD 760 million and extend the maturity of the debt.
Growth momentum will likely be sustained in 2019, as healthy remittance inflows and a tighter labor market drive solid private consumption, while upbeat business confidence fuels a strong expansion in fixed investment. However, the prevalence of the interest rate cap will likely continue to limit the availability of credit and could hinder the government’s ability to secure additional funding from the IMF. This, coupled with fiscal tightening measures, pose headwinds to the outlook. FocusEconomics analysts project GDP growth of 5.8% in 2019, which is unchanged from last December’s forecast, and 5.7% in 2020.
The exhibition tied together various sectors of the Russian economy, including agriculture, heavy and light manufacturing, military and civilian engineering, and much more. The Russian Export Center organized a large-scale exhibit, State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM presented renewable energy sources, and Transmashholding brought modern developments in passenger transport to the attention of participants: the two-car RA-3 railbus, which went into operation at the end of August 2019, the control car of the Moscow-2019 train, which was commissioned by the Moscow Metro, and both sleeper and non-sleeper locomotive-hauled cars, built according to the principle of two-car coupling. A VR area was set up at the stand, giving visitors the opportunity to tour a passenger car of the future.
GAZ presented the latest developments in automotive engineering, including mobile medical stations. The Roscongress Foundation and Gazprom jointly organized the Innovation Space, an innovation cluster that formed part of the exhibition. Thirteen high-tech Russian companies working in water supply systems, biological fertilizers, internet services and telemedicine presented their projects at stands: Agratek Bio, RDP.RU, VIST Mining Technology, Bionovatic, Smart Mini-Clinic (AMCIA), Finteka, Zeldis Pharma, IstochnikZdorovya, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Gamaleya, Avtonomika, Intelligent Scanning Systems and Kalancha. As part of the exhibition, Goznak presented technologies related to the manufacture of products for cash circulation, as well as various identification documents and systems.
An exhibit showcasing the defence industry was presented in a single exhibition space at the main venue of the Sirius Park of Science and Art.Thirty industry leaders, including Russian Railways, PhosAgro, United Aircraft Corporation, and PROTEI participated in the exhibition, presenting sought-after solutions for mobile network operators and comprehensive security systems for implementing the ‘safe city’ concept among other technologies aimed at foreign markets.
Representing the African side at the exhibition were Djibouti, which presented modern logistical platforms, as well as Kenya, DR Congo, and the Moroccan national carrier Royal Air Maroc.
Participants of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum took a special interest in the Discover Russian Cuisine festival, where international head chefs opened the festival’s extensive gastronomic programme. The Forum’s guests and participants were delighted by the regional products on offer at the gastromarket. The highlight of the gastronomic programme was a huge samovar, which was used to serve different varieties of Krasnodar tea. Head chefs from Luxembourg, France, Belgium and Russia participated in the programme.
Goznak also held sales of commemorative coins minted by the Bank of Russia at its stand. Visitors at the stand showed an interest in new minting technologies based on composite materials and in the commemorative banknotes presented in window displays.
The Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum was covered by around 800 media representatives (over 500 Russian and 250 international) representing 43 foreign countries: Algeria, Angola, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Guinea, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of the Congo, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, the Ghana, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the USA, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
650 volunteers fluent in English, French, Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish and representing cities including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Chelyabinsk, Arkhangelsk, Volgograd, Armavir, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don and Sochi participated in organizing the Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum.
7. Cultural programme
A Gala Reception hosted by the President of the Russian Federation was held as part of the Summit and Forum cultural programme. The spouses of the heads of African states visited the Sochi Olympic Park and the Rosa Khutor resort on 24 October. In the evening, participants and guests of the Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum were invited to a gala concert featuring stars of Russian figure skating. The world-class ice show synthesized figure skating, theatrical performances, music, acrobatics and cutting-edge stage sets.
The Information and Analytical System of the Roscongress Foundation continued developing its Summary service, a joint effort by the Roscongress Foundation and the Russian News Agency TASS, which provides readers with a condensed version of key discussions, describing the conclusions, problems, and solutions mentioned therein. A total of 34 short analytical summaries have been prepared following the outcomes of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum.
A special publication covering the outcomes of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum, ROSCONGRESS INSIDER, will be made available on the official website of the event summitafrica.ru/en and on the RoscongressInformationa and Analytical System website roscongress.org/en.
Around 9,100 hotel rooms in 30 hotels in Adler, Imeretinskaya, Krasnaya Polyana and central Sochi were booked in the run-up to the Russia–Africa Summit, as well as around 900 vehicles. Sochi International Airport facilitated around 700 take-off and landing operations and saw a passenger throughput of 2,500 people per hour during the days of the Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum.
Event organizer – Roscongress Foundation; co-organizers of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum – Russian Export Center and Afreximbank.
The Roscongress Foundation is a socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of international conventions, exhibitions, and public events.
The Foundation was established in 2007 with the aim of facilitating the development of Russia’s economic potential, promoting its national interests, and strengthening the country’s image. One of the roles of the Foundation is to comprehensively evaluate, analyse, and cover issues on the Russian and global economic agendas. It also offers administrative services, provides promotional support for business projects and attracting investment, and helps foster social entrepreneurship and charitable initiatives.
Each year, the Foundation’s events draw participants from 208 countries and territories, with more than 15,000 media representatives working on-site at Roscongress’ various venues. The Foundation benefits from analytical and professional expertise provided by 2,500 people working in Russia and abroad. In addition, it works in close cooperation with economic partners; industrialists’ and entrepreneurs’ unions; and financial, trade, and business associations from 107 countries worldwide.roscongress.org/en