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Russian President Putin Addresses Plenary Session of Russia-Africa Summit

July 27, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—In its plenary session on “Technology and Security in the Name of Sovereign Development for the Benefit of Mankind,” including African Union Chair and President of Comoros Azali Assoumani, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, President of the African Export-Import Bank Benedict Oramah, and New Development Bank President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered remarks on the future cooperation between Russia and African nations.

Putin stated Africa’s potential, which, he said, “is obvious to everyone”: annual GDP growth of over 4% over the past 20 years, a rapidly growing population and middle class, and an abundance of youth. Russia-Africa trade reached $18 billion last year, and trade has increased by one-third in just the first half of this year. A majority of Russia’s exports to Africa are for machinery, equipment, chemicals, and food.

Compared to the 11.5 million tonnes of grain exported to Africa in 2022, nearly 10 million tonnes were exported in just the first half of 2023. The number would be higher—and certainly the level of fertilizer exports would have been much higher—had sanctions been removed or the Black Sea Grain Initiative truly implemented. While Ukraine exported 17 million tonnes of wheat in 2022, Russia exported 48 million tonnes.

Putin spoke with satisfaction about Russia’s current and growing involvement in energy systems infrastructure in Africa, including in Angola, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Projects involving Russian (or Soviet) collaboration account for 4.6 GW of installed capacity, and 25% of Africa’s hydropower capacity. Exports of agricultural equipment and exchange of know-how are on the agenda.

Improved transport infrastructure and financial infrastructure (such as mechanisms for national currency payments) are needed. For example, Putin supports cooperation between the EAEU and the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Some 35,000 African students are currently studying in Russia, with 4,700 scholarships to be available for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Putin concluded: “I would like to emphasize that Russia is sincerely interested in continuing to promote all-round development and deepen trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation with all African countries.”

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